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Heathcote Ball v Barry [2000] EWCA Civ 235

The claimant had submitted the highest (and only) bids at an auction stated to be without reserve. The items were two Alan Smart engine analysers which were worth £14,000. The claimant had submitted bids of £200 each. The auctioneer refused to sell them at that price. The claimant brought an action for breach of contract claiming damages of £27,600.

Held:

The claimant was entitled to damages. Where an auction takes place without reserve the auctioneer makes a unilateral offer which is accepted by submitting the highest bid. There was thus a binding contract and the claimant entitled to damages covering the loss of bargain.
 
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