Delaware Auction Law

Delaware is a state in the United States’ Mid-Atlantic area, bordered by Maryland to the south and west, Pennsylvania to the north, and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The state is named after Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, an English nobleman and Virginia’s first colonial governor.

Delaware controls the northeastern section of the Delmarva Peninsula, as well as several islands and territories along the Delaware River. It is the second-smallest and sixth-least populous state, yet it also has the sixth-highest population density. Wilmington is the state’s largest city, while Dover, the state’s second-largest, is the state capital.The state is split into three counties, the fewest of any state; these are New Castle County, Kent County, and Sussex County, from north to south. While the southern two counties have always been agrarian, New Castle has become more urbanized. Delaware’s geography, culture, and history, like Maryland’s, blend characteristics of the country’s Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern, and Southern regions.

AUCTION AND AUCTIONEER LICENSING ACT.

§ 5601. Title

This Act shall be known and may be cited as the “Delaware Auction and Auctioneer Licensing Act”.

§ 5602.  Legislative Intent.

The General Assembly finds that, in order to protect the interests of consumers who participate in auctions and to ensure that the profession in Delaware is conducted in accordance with the highest ethical standards by licensed and trained professionals, it is advisable to create the Auctioneer’s Licensing Commission

§ 5603.  Objectives

(a) There is hereby established the Auctioneer Licensing Commission.  The primary objective of the Auctioneer Licensing Commission, to which all other objectives and purposes are secondary, is to protect the general public, specifically those persons who are participants in auctions and or the recipients of services regulated by this chapter. 

(b) The secondary objectives of this Commission are to maintain minimum standards of competency for the auctioneering profession and to maintain good standards in the delivery of services to the public.  In meeting its objectives, the Commission shall develop standards assuring professional competence; shall monitor complaints brought against practitioners regulated by the Commission; shall adjudicate at informal hearings; shall promulgate rules and regulations; and shall impose sanctions where necessary against licensed practitioners.

§ 5604. Definitions

Unless otherwise provided hereof, as used in this chapter:

 (1) “Absolute auction” means an auction where real or personal property is sold to the highest qualified bidder with no limiting conditions or amount.  The seller may not bid personally or through an agent on property to be sold at an absolute auction.  In an absolute auction, after the auctioneer calls for bids on real or personal property, it cannot be withdrawn unless no bid is made within a reasonable time.

(2) “Applicant” means any person applying for an auctioneer or auction firm license under this chapter.

(3) “Auction” means the public sale of real or personal property, or both, in which the sale price of the property offered is increased by competitive bids until the highest accepted bidder becomes the purchaser.

(4) “Auctioneer” means an individual who engages in, or who by advertising or otherwise holds himself out as being available to engage in the calling for, the recognition of, and the acceptance of competitive bids for the purchase of real or personal property at auction, or otherwise engaging in the business of auctioneering.

(5) “Licensed Auctioneer” means an applicant who meets the requirements for licensure set forth in this chapter. 

(6)“Auctioneering” or “business of auctioneering” includes, in addition to the actual calling, recognition and acceptance of competitive bids, the following:

  1. Contracting for an auction;
  2. Accepting consignments of real or personal property for sale at auction;
  3. Advertising an auction;
  4. Offering real or personal property for sale at auction and calling for bids;
  5. Accepting payment or disbursing monies for items sold at auction; and
  6. Otherwise soliciting, arranging, sponsoring, or managing an auction, or holding oneself out as an auctioneer or auction firm;

(7) “Auction firm” means a sole proprietorship, corporation, or limited liability company of which the owner is a licensed auctioneer, or any partnership, association, corporation, or any other legal entity that sells, either directly or through agents, real or personal property at auction, or that arranges, sponsors, manages, conducts or advertises auctions, or otherwise engages in the business of auctioneering.  This definition applies whether or not an owner or officer of the business acts as an auctioneer. The term “auction firm” does not apply to a charitable, religious, or civic organization that has tax-exempt status and holds auctions solely as a fund-raiser for the benefit of the organization or its clients.

(8) “Transact business” means to conduct auctions, take bids or otherwise perform as an auctioneer.

(9) “Calling for bids” means calling the auction, the chant, and asking the audience at an auction for bids.

(10) “Commission” means the Auctioneer Licensing Commission created by this chapter.

(11) “Consignment” means the act of delivering or transferring real or personal property, in fact or constructively, to an auctioneer or the auctioneer’s agent in trust for the purpose of resale at auction whereby title does not pass to the buyer until the auctioneer declares the real or personal property ‘sold’.  

(12) “Designated agent” means a person approved by the Commission to have the authority to transact business for an auction firm.

(13) “Fund” means the Recovery Fund established under this chapter.

(14) “Real or personal property” means any goods, wares, chattels, merchandise, real estate or other personal property, including domestic animals and farm products.

(15) “Person” means an individual or any entity, including a partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or association.

(16) “Reserve auction” of real and personal property means an auction in which the seller retains the right to establish a minimum price, to accept or decline any and all bids or to withdraw the property at any time prior to the announcement of the completion of the sale by the auctioneer.  An auction is a reserve auction unless the property is in explicit terms put up without reserve for an absolute auction.

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