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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 16923
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I used an auctioneer to sell my mother's table. It achieved

Customer Question

I used an auctioneer to sell my mother's table. It achieved £1400. 8 days later the auctioneer called to say that the buyer had changed his mind and was refusing to pay anything. The auctioneer suggested that I should move on and that I could try legal action but this would be expensive and lengthy. Is that true? The Auctioneer suggested that we put it in a future auction with a lower reserve as the buyer was claiming that the damage (fully described and available for viewing) was too expensive to repair.
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: no
JA: Where is the property located?
Customer: at the auctioneers
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: no
Submitted: 4 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 4 days ago.

Welcome to Just Answer.

I will be happy to assist with your question today. I need some time to consider this and compose a response. There is NO need to wait online because you will get an email when I respond. Sometimes it will be minutes, sometimes longer.

I apologise for any unavoidable delay, but rest assured I have not forgotten your question.

the buyer inspected the table before he bid?

what do the terms and conditions of bidding state?

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
I do not think the buyer viewed in person. I think he was an internet bidder. The auctioneers description did not in my view fully describe the condition (I realise now). I have a copy of the auctioneers T&C. They indicate he should view and even ask the auctioneers for a more detailed condition report.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 4 days ago.

There is a binding contract on the fall of the hammer.

If the person hasn’t paid, then it’s a matter for the Small Claims Court.

Not expenses, but not quick.

You need to tell the bias that they have until 4 PM on Friday the 18th, to pay up, failing which you will issue Small Claims Court proceedings against them without further notice. No point in hanging around. is quick and easy. You can prepare the proceedings now, and save them online ready to issue them whenever a deadline for payment (you have to give them a deadline in writing and it has to be reasonable period to pay up) expires.

If the damage was too expensive to repair, that’s unfortunate for the buyer. They should have inspected it more thoroughly. It doesn’t matter whether you described it or not.

It’s up to you whether you put it into a future auction or whether you pursue the existing buyer but if it’s going into a future auction, you may get less for it and/or you need the auctioneer to waive their fees.

If you put it into a future auction and the auctioneer will not waive their fees, you would still be entitled to take the original buyer to court for whatever this cost you and you lose in the second sale.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Please note that my answer is based strictly on the information that you have given me. If you have not given me all the information, then my answer may be incomplete or wrong.

I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

If you still need any points clarifying, I will be happy to reply because the thread does not close.

Thank you.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 4 days ago.
Dear Mr Smith, Thank you for the response. I edited your response into an email to the Auctioneer. He has respond with three points. 1)He states that he is not allowed (under Data Protection) to give me the details of the buyer. (Then how do I serve notice on him?) 2) I had not mentioned one issue to you as I did not think it important or relevant. I hope you do not also. The auctioneer tried to implicate my negligence due to the following: After bidding, the buyer apparently immediately contacted Thompsons of Yorkshire (the original manufacturer of the table). He was told that the table was not repairable and that this triggered his decision not to honour his bid. The Buyer informed the Auctioneer that Thompsons already knew of the table as I had already contacted them (true). He also told the auctioneer that I had been told by Thompsons that the table was not repairable (not true). I had indeed been in contact with Thompsons to get an idea of my options. They responded poorly to my enquiries and eventually offered to buy it for a meagre sum. It was them who suggested I go to an auction. I did not mention this because I had not been told it was not repairable. Additionally, I considered that the Auctioneers presumption that Thompsons are the only possible repairer was not valid. Other thoughts that now spring to mind are: the when I approached the auctioneer initially, he reckoned there were many potential repairers and in fact one of them might be a potential bidder. One could also assert that everything is repairable - alternatively, it is possible that a new top could be bought and replace the damaged one. However, the fundamental issue is that the buyer should make his pre-auction checks and could have made any call to any repairer BEFORE the Auction. How would he have assed the potential outlay he has to make?
Customer: replied 4 days ago.
3) The third item the auctioneer raised was a question to me as to why I did not make a claim on insurance as one of the damages occurred when I dropped the table top. this point is not relevant.
In all fairness the Auctioneer says that he will not be able to respond fully for a week or so (due to family illness) and threw the 3 points out there as an immediate response as a holding position.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 4 days ago.

Threatening the auctioneer with an application to court for pre-disclosure of the details of the buyer, and an application for costs against him on the basis that it’s unreasonable for him to withhold the information of someone that you have a contract with!

The fact that the table may or may not be repairable is irrelevant. As long as it was as described and you had not misrepresented it, if he buys something which is junk, that’s entirely up to him. However I cannot see how something can be not repairable because it was manufactured in the first place then it can be remanufactured. Sounds ludicrous to me. I think the buyer is trying it on.

However assuming that is the case and assuming it is not repairable, as long as it is as described, then you are under no duty to disclose anything else.

The auctioneer it seems enthused over the table, presumably to get you to sell it and the him to make a wedge of commission.

I couldn’t agree more that whether you choose to repair it or claim on your insurance, or do whatever you like with it is entirely up to you.

My own view is that I would give him a very short reply to point 2 & 3 and ask him whether he wants to appoint solicitors to accept service of proceedings in respect of 1.

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
quick! Thank you.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 4 days ago.

I am glad to help. Thank you for the kind comments.

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
I have responded to him. Just to let you know, it might be considered "unrepairable" as one of the damages related to a twisting of a table top plank. But I am assuming that. However, in principal, I agree, if it can be made it can be repaired.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 days ago.

I am glad to help. Kind regards