Brief Fact Summary. During a foreclosure sale, an auctioneer was about ready to signify the close of bidding when he was informed that he missed a bid. The auctioneer reopened the bidding over the objections of the party that had been leading the bidding.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. In order to achieve uniformity, an auctioneer auctioning off a piece of land should be granted "the same discretion to reopen bidding that he has in the sale of goods".
Issue. May "an auctioneer at a foreclosure sale [ ] reopen the bidding when an overbid is made immediately prior to or simultaneously with the falling of the hammer in acceptance of a lower bid"?
Held. Yes. The court recognized, but disagreed with how the trial court relied upon "Code §8.2-328(2), a part of the Uniform Commercial Code", because the Uniform Commercial Code ("UCC") only applies to the sale of goods. Nonetheless, the court decided to borrow from the UCC to establish a rule applicable to this case. The court recognized that it "is both necessary and fair" to grant "the auctioneer the same discretion to reopen bidding that he has in the sale of goods is to achieve uniformity." The court then held that the auctioneer "was vested with discretion to reopen the bidding for the land which was being sold." Additionally, the court agreed with the trial court that the auctioneer was within his right to reopen the bidding "when it was made apparent to him that a higher bid had been submitted 'prior to or simultaneously with' the falling of his fist in acceptance of the plaintiff's lower bid."
Discussion. This case offers an interesting discussion into how a court will borrow certain rules from the UCC and apply them to transactions not involving goods.