“Commissaire-priseurs” are French auctioneers authorised to conduct public auctions. They are professionals who have acquired expertise in one or more artistic fields as well as a sound knowledge of the law.
Although the historic term “commissaire-priseur” is generally used to mean auctioneer in French, the profession has in fact been divided into two distinct professions since 1 July 2022:
- Auctioneers conduct voluntary sales at the request of private individuals. They work in commercial companies (Société de Ventes Volontaires or S.V.V., a kind of commercial auction house).
- Commissioners of Justice are ministerial officers appointed by order of the Garde des Sceaux who conduct judicial sales, i.e. those mandated by law or court order. The latter is a new regulated profession, created by the Macron Act of 6 August 2015 and has been in place since 1 July 2022, grouping together the former professions of voluntary auctioneers, judicial auctioneers and bailiffs.