Maine Auction Law

Maine is a state in the New England region of the United States, bordered by New Hampshire to the west; the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast; and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and northwest, respectively. Maine is the 12th-smallest by area, the 9th-least populous, and the 13th-least densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. It is also the northeasternmost among the contiguous United States, the northernmost state east of the Great Lakes, the only state whose name consists of a single syllable, and the only state to border only one other state. Maine is known for its jagged, rocky coastline; low, rolling mountains; heavily forested interior; picturesque waterways; and its seafood cuisine, especially lobster and clams. There is a humid continental climate throughout most of the state, including coastal areas. Its most populous city is Portland, and its capital is Augusta.


  1. Auction.  “Auction” means the offering of goods or real estate for sale by means of exchanges between an auctioneer and bidders. 
  2. Auctioneer.  “Auctioneer” means any person who conducts, advertises or offers that person’s service to conduct auctions; contracts or offers to contract with consignors of real or personal property, with or without receiving or collecting a fee, commission or other valuable consideration; or sells or offers to sell property at auction.   
  3. Bid.  “Bid” means an offer to buy. 
  4. Buyer’s premium.  “Buyer’s premium” means a premium usually described as a percentage of the final bid to be paid by the buyer as part of the purchase price.
  5. Consignor.  “Consignor” means the bona fide owner, agent or party in interest of the personal property or real estate being offered for sale. 
  6. Completion of sale.  “Completion of the sale” means the acceptance of the final bid by the auctioneer as indicated by the fall of the hammer or in another customary manner.
  7. Reasonable period of time.  “Reasonable period of time” means not more than 30 days from the date of the auction or such other time as is stated in a contract.   
  8. With reserve.  “With reserve” means that the consignor reserves the right to establish a minimum bid, to accept or reject any bid and to withdraw the property at any time prior to the announcement of the completion of the sale by the auctioneer.
  9. Without reserve.  “Without reserve” means that no minimum opening bid or other condition that limits the sale other than to the highest bidder is required and that the consignor may not modify or nullify the sale by bidding either personally or through a representative. An auction without reserve is the same as an absolute auction.   

Sale by auction

  1.   In a sale by auction if goods are put up in lots, each lot is the subject of a separate sale.   
  2. A sale by auction is complete when the auctioneer announces by the fall of the hammer or in other customary manner. Where a bid is made while the hammer is falling in acceptance of a prior bid, the auctioneer may in his discretion reopen the bidding or declare the goods sold under the bid on which the hammer was falling.   
  3. Such a sale is with reserve unless the goods are in explicit terms put up without reserve. In an auction with reserve, the auctioneer may withdraw the goods at any time until he announces completion of the sale. In an auction without reserve, after the auctioneer calls for bids on an article or lot, that article or lot cannot be withdrawn unless no bid is made within a reasonable time. In either case a bidder may retract his bid until the auctioneer’s announcement of completion of the sale, but a bidder’s retraction does not revive any previous bid.   
  4. If the auctioneer knowingly receives a bid on the seller’s behalf or the seller makes or procures such a bid, and notice has not been given that liberty for such bidding is reserved, the buyer may at his option avoid the sale or take the goods at the price of the last good faith bid prior to the completion of the sale. This subsection shall not apply to any bid at a forced sale. 


Licenses expire annually on March 31st or at a time the Commissioner of Professional and Financial Regulation designates. The board may issue a renewal license in the absence of any reason or condition that might warrant the refusal of granting a license upon receipt of the written request of the applicant and the renewal fee as set under section 287-A and upon the applicant presenting evidence of compliance with the requirements of section 292, subsection 5. A license may be renewed up to 90 calendar days after the date of its expiration upon payment of a late fee in addition to the renewal fee. Any applicant who submits an application for renewal more than 90 calendar days after the expiration date is subject to all requirements governing new applicants under this chapter

Defining Auction, Does Not Require That Goods be Sold to the Highest Bidder in Accordance with the Traditional Auction Format for a Sale to Fall Within the Definition of Auction

This case involved an auction sale in which the Petitioner contended that the sale did not constitute an auction.  In this case, the Maine Board of Licensing Auctioneers (“Board”) sanctioned Audrey L. Street (“Plaintiff”), a licensed auctioneer in Maine for failing to follow procedures. The Paintiff had agreed to hold a joint auction with Arthur P. Wood (“Wood”), an auctioneer not licensed in Maine. Shortly before the auction, the Plaintiff came to doubt Wood’s credibility. Therefore, although the Plaintiff was present at the auction, she did not “call” the auction.  However, the Plaintiff collected money for every item sold. Subsequently, Wood filed a complaint with the Board alleging that the Plaintiff conducted an auction but did not provide an accounting or a written contract. And the Board sanctioned the Plaintiff for not complying with the auction procedures. The superior court affirmed the Board’s decision.  This appeal followed.

The Plaintiff contended that the sale of Wood’s property did not constitute an auction and she she did not act as auctioneer but instead merely provided administrative assistance and the venue in which the sale was conducted. Because sections 291(1)(B) and 298 are applicable to her only in the course of conducting an auction as auctioneer and on behalf of a consignor, the Plaintiff argued that the Board erred in determining that she violated auction related provisions of law.

The Supreme Court also noted that the Plaintiff’s attempt to limit the statute’s plainly broad definition of “auction” is without merits. Therefore, the Supreme Court stated that the Board’s determination that an auction took place is not an error.

The Plaintiff also contested that her acts did not fall within the definition of an auctioneer.  The Court noted that an Auctioneer” is defined as “any person who conducts, advertises or offers that person’s service to conduct auctions; contracts or offers to contract with consignors of real or personal property, with or without receiving or collecting a fee, commission or other valuable consideration; or sells or offers to sell property at auction.” 32 M.R.S.A. § 284(2).  After analyzing the facts, the Court found that the Plaintiff advertised herself as an auctioneer and formed an oral contract with Wood to hold an auction within the scope of her auctioneering license; and she took a primary role in accepting the payments at the sale itself. Id. at 13. The fact that the Plaintiff did not actually “call” the auction cannot be taken in the Plaintiff’s favor because the statute does not include such a requirement within the definition of the term “auctioneer.” Id. Therefore, the Supreme Court found that the Board reasonably determined that the Plaintiff’s actions fell within the definition of auctioneer.

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