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General Principle:

If there is an auction without reserve, the auctioneer must sell to the highest bidder.


Barry v Davies (2000) Times 31/8/00, CA


This case concerned an auction of some machines. The auction was advertised as being "without reserve". Two machines, worth £14,000 each, were placed up for auction. Barry bid £200 on each machine. Davies rejected the chance to accept the bid because it was so low. In response, he took the machines down from the auction.


Barry sued. He was awarded £27,600 (The worth of the machines minus the bid). The ruling stood despite an appeal by Davies. Despite the fact that there was no contract between the vendor and the person purchasing the machines, a collateral contract was held to exist between the auctioneer and the highest bidder.


In Barry v Davies there was an auction that sells an item or items with ‘no reserve price’ (that is no minimum fee for a buyer to pay for an offer to be accepted), there is an offer to sell only to the highest bidder. This can only be accepted by the lodging of the highest bid.

Barry v Davies (2000) Times 31/8/00, CA

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