Bidder ‘got carried away’ at auction for £1m house

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A MAN who claimed he attended a house auction just for breakfast must complete a deal to buy the £1m property in Ballyclare, a High Court judge has ruled.

Stephen Robinson argued he should not have to make the purchase, alleging it was wrongly described and that the 10 per cent deposit was actually a loan.

He also defended the action by claiming there were no other genuine bidders for the home and land on the Templepatrick Road (pictured above).

But Mr Justice Deeny rejected his claim and held that the house sellers, Anne and Richard Bones, should succeed in a bid to enforce specific performance of the contract.

He suggested that Mr Robinson may have been swept up in the mood of the property market, which turned at around the time of the auction in October 2007.

The judge said: “Mr Bones had perhaps encouraged Mr Robinson to attend the sale and that Mr Robinson got a little carried away and ended up as the successful buyer.”

According to the plaintiffs an agreement was reached at public auction to buy their home for £1,030,000. Although a £100,000 deposit was to be paid, the court was told Mr Robinson said he did not have his cheque book with him.

“In fact he appears to have made, and I accept his evidence in this regard, some comment to the effect that he had come there for breakfast not to buy a house,” Mr Justice Deeny said.

Mr Robinson’s daughter was later listed as the purchaser following payment of the required deposit.

Defending the action without legal representation, Robinson claimed no one else was actually trying to buy the house and land.

“This is a remarkable allegation to make because the bidding had been stopped twice and restarted while [the auctioneer] took instructions as to whether his clients were satisfied with the then bidding,” the judge said.

“On at least the second opportunity Mr Richard Bones would say Mr Robinson was not the highest bidder and if Mr Robinson’s case is now right ... the auctioneer had not merely conjured one early bid out of the air which in itself would be wrong but invented a whole series of bidders because Mr Robinson believes there were no other bidders there.”

In a judgment delivered last September but only now published, Mr Justice Deeney expressed reservations about possible communication between Mr Bones and Mr Robinson, but said it fell very far short of what was required to defeat the claim.

Raising the possibility that Mr Robinson thought the auction would be reopened when he disclosed he had no cheque book, the judge pointed out that the Bones chose not to take that course.

“It may be that Mr Robinson at that time should have said ‘Well look, I got a bit carried away. I don’t want to buy this property at all’ and it could have been re-sold then without loss and without legal liability on his part but he did not say so and he had his daughter with him who ultimately agreed to buy the property for that amount,” he said.