Senate Bill No. 343
Introduced By _______________________________________________________________________________
A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act revising and clarifying laws governing motor vehicle dealers, manufacturers, and distributors; and amending sections 61-4-101, 61-4-104, 61-4-120, 61-4-121, 61-4-131, 61-4-133, 61-4-134, 61-4-201, 61-4-205, 61-4-206, 61-4-207, and 61-4-208, MCA; and providing an immediate effective date."
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:
Section 1. Section 61-4-101, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-101. Application for dealer's license or wholesaler's license. (1) (a) A verified application for licensure as a dealer or wholesaler must be filed, by mail or otherwise, in the office of the department by each person, firm, corporation, or association that, for commission or profit, engages in:
(i) the business of buying, selling, exchanging, taking for consignment, or acting as a broker of new motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, used motor vehicles, trailers (except trailers having an unloaded weight of less than 500 pounds), semitrailers, mobile homes, or special mobile equipment as defined in 61-1-104; or
(ii) business as a wholesaler as defined in 61-1-319.
(b) A licensed real estate broker or agent lawfully buying, selling, exchanging, taking for consignment, or acting as a broker of mobile homes is exempt from licensure under this section.
(c) The sale of more than three motor vehicles or the offering for sale of more than three motor vehicles, if the motor vehicles are not titled in the seller's name, in any 1 calendar year is prima facie evidence that a person is engaged in the business of dealing motor vehicles. Licensed wholesalers do not have the privilege of the use of dealer license plates as provided in subsection (2)(b) but are authorized to display and use demonstrator plates under the provisions of 61-4-102(2)(a)(ii).
(d) Each license application and all of the information contained in it must be verified by the department or an authorized
representative of the department on a form to be furnished by the department for that purpose and must contain the
information required. Each application must be accompanied by the license fee specified in 61-4-102. A dealer's or
wholesaler's license must be renewed and paid for annually, and an application for relicensure must be filed not later than
January 1 of each year. If an application for renewal of a license has been received by the department
prior to before the
expiration of the license, the licensee may operate the business and display dealer or demonstrator plates under the expired
license between January 1 and February 15 following expiration.
(2) To qualify for licensure and the issuance and use of "D", "UD", "RV", "DTR", or "MCD" plates as provided in this
subsection, the applicant
must shall furnish the following information and qualify under the following provisions:
(a) To qualify as a new motor vehicle dealer and for the use of "D" plates, the applicant
(i) state the name under which the business is to be conducted and the location of the premises (street address, city, county, and state) where records are kept, sales are made, and stock of motor vehicles is displayed;
(ii) state the name,
and address, date of birth, and social security number of all owners or persons having an interest in the
business, provided that in the case of a corporation, the names and addresses of the president and secretary are sufficient;
(iii) identify other dealerships owned by the applicant, identify all persons in Montana or in another state having an interest in another dealership owned by the applicant, and disclose whether the applicant or other person with interest in a dealership owned by the applicant has been convicted of a felony;
(iv) certify that the applicant has acquired and shall maintain motor vehicle liability insurance, pursuant to 61-6-301, for any vehicle offered for demonstration or loan to a customer;
(iii)(v) state the name and make of all motor vehicles handled and the name and address of the manufacturer, importer, or
distributor with whom the applicant has a written new motor vehicle franchise or sales agreement; (iv)(vi) execute a certificate to the effect that the applicant has a permanent building for the display and sale of new motor
vehicles at the location of the premises where sales are conducted; (v)(vii) execute a certificate to the effect that the applicant has a bona fide service department for the repair, service, and
maintenance of motor vehicles; and (vi)(viii) execute a certificate to the effect that the applicant is a bona fide dealer in new motor vehicles and that the dealer
is recognized by a manufacturer, importer, or distributor as a dealer in new motor vehicles.
(b) To qualify as a used motor vehicle dealer and for the use of "UD" plates; as a recreational vehicle dealer and for the use
of "RV" plates; as a trailer, semitrailer, or special mobile equipment dealer and for the use of "DTR" plates; as a motorcycle
or quadricycle dealer and for the use of "MCD" plates; or as a wholesaler and for the use of demonstrator plates, the
applicant shall, in addition to the matters set forth in subsections (2)(a)(i)
and (2)(a)(ii) through (2)(a)(iv), provide:
(i) a statement that the:
(A) applicant has an established place of business that includes a lot or lots upon which motor vehicles may be displayed and a permanent nonresidential building on or contiguous to the lot or lots where records are kept and sales are made; or
(B) wholesaler applicant has an established place of business that includes a permanent nonresidential building or office where records are kept in order that those records may be inspected;
(ii) a certificate to the effect that the applicant is a bona fide dealer or wholesaler in used motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, trailers, semitrailers, special mobile equipment, motorcycles, or quadricycles. An applicant for a recreational vehicle dealer license shall also indicate on the same certificate that the person is recognized by a manufacturer, importer, or distributor as a dealer in recreational vehicles.
(c) If two or more vehicle dealer or wholesaler businesses share a location, all records, office facilities, and inventory, if applicable, must be physically segregated and clearly identified. Each applicant's established place of business shall display a sign that indicates the firm name and that vehicles are offered for sale. The letters of the sign must be clearly visible and readable to the major avenue of traffic at a minimum distance of 150 feet.
(d) To qualify for a used motor vehicle dealer's or wholesaler's license, a person shall submit an annual application for that license and comply with the provisions of 61-4-102(5) in addition to fulfilling the requirements of subsection (2)(b).
(e) The provisions of subsection (2)(d) do not apply to an applicant who is licensed as a motor vehicle wrecking facility under the provisions of Title 75, chapter 10, part 5.
(3) (a) The applicant for a dealer's or wholesaler's license shall also file with
his the application a bond of $25,000 $50,000
for a license as a new motor vehicle dealer, a used motor vehicle dealer, a recreational vehicle dealer, a trailer dealer, or a
wholesaler. However, applicants for a license as a trailer dealer or a trailer wholesaler shall file the $25,000 $50,000 surety
bond only if special mobile equipment, commercial trailers and semitrailers exceeding 6,000 pounds maximum gross
loaded weight, mobile homes, or house trailers are sold ;. otherwise, all All other trailer dealer, motorcycle dealer, or
wholesaler license applicants shall file a bond in the sum of $10,000. All bonds must be conditioned that the applicant shall
conduct the business in accordance with the requirements of the law. The bond may extend to any other type of dealer
license issued to the applicant at the same place of business, provided that all types of licenses are indicated on the face of
the bond. All bonds must run to the state of Montana, must be approved by the department, and must be filed in its office,
and must be renewed annually.
(b) A person who suffers loss or damage due to the unlawful conduct of a dealer or wholesaler licensed under this section shall obtain a judgment from a court of competent jurisdiction prior to collecting on the bond. The judgment must determine a specific loss or damage amount and conclude that the licensee's unlawful operation caused the loss or damage before payment on the bond is required."
Section 2. Section 61-4-104, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-104. Record of purchase or sale. A dealer or wholesaler licensed under 61-4-101 shall keep a book or record of
the purchases, sales or exchanges, or receipts for the purpose of sale of used vehicles and a description of the vehicles,
together with the name and address of the seller, of the purchaser, and of the alleged owner or other person from whom
each vehicle was purchased or received or to whom it was sold or delivered, as the case may be. The description in the case
of motor vehicles must also include the vehicle identification number and engine number, if any,
maker's number, if any,
chassis number, if any, and other numbers or identification marks that appear on the motor vehicle and must include a
statement that a number has been obliterated, defaced, or changed if such is the fact that has occurred. In the case of a
trailer, semitrailer, or special mobile equipment, the record must include the manufacturer's number and other numbers or
identification marks that appear thereon on the trailer, semitrailer, or special mobile equipment. The dealer or wholesaler
must also have in his possession, a duly assigned certificate of ownership from the owner of the motor vehicle to the dealer
or wholesaler from the time the motor vehicle is delivered to him the dealer or wholesaler until it has been disposed of by
him the dealer or wholesaler , a duly assigned certificate of ownership from the owner of the motor vehicle to the dealer or
wholesaler. It is a violation of this part for a dealer or wholesaler to fail to take assignment of all certificates of ownership
or manufacturer's certificates of origin for vehicles acquired by the licensee or to fail to assign the certificate of ownership
or manufacturer's certificate of origin for vehicles sold. All records required to be kept in accordance with this section, in
addition to the required retention of odometer disclosure information under 61-3-206(4), must be physically located and
maintained within the building referred to in 61-4-101(2)(b)(i). An authorized representative of the department, upon
presentation of his the representative's credentials, may inspect and have access to and copy any records required under this
Section 3. Section 61-4-120, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-120. Application for auto auction license -- general regulations. (1) A person, firm, association, or corporation that takes possession of a motor vehicle owned by another person through consignment, bailment, or any other arrangement for the purpose of selling the motor vehicle to the highest bidder when all buyers are licensed motor vehicle dealers, wholesalers, or wrecking facilities shall file by mail or otherwise in the office of the department a verified application for licensure as an auto auction. The application must be made in the following manner:
(a) Each application and all of the information contained in it must be verified by the department or an authorized representative of the department on a form to be furnished by the department for that purpose. The application must provide the following information:
(i) the name in which the business is to be conducted and the location of premises, including
(street address, city, county,
and state ), where records are kept, sales are made, and motor vehicle stock is displayed as an established place of business
that displays a sign indicating the firm name and that vehicles are offered for sale. The letters on the sign must be clearly
visible and readable to the major avenue of traffic at a minimum distance of 150 feet.
(ii) the name and address of all owners or persons having an interest in the business. In the case of a corporation, the names and addresses of the president and secretary are sufficient.
(iii) a statement that the applicant is authorized to auction used motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, trailers, semitrailers, special mobile equipment, motorcycles, and quadricycles under one license. A licensed auto auction may not auction a new motor vehicle except when authorized by a new motor vehicle manufacturer, importer, distributor, or representative thereof, for the purpose of conducting a closed-factory fleet sale to dispose of new motor vehicles by the franchisor (manufacturer, distributor, or importer) to franchisee purchasers when the purchasers are licensed new motor vehicle dealers purchasing new motor vehicle line-makes authorized by their respective franchise, sales, or distributor agreements. An auto auction licensed under the provisions of this section shall notify and update the department with current fleet sale agreements between the auto auction and franchisor. An auto auction may not conduct a factory fleet sale unless authorized or appointed by a franchisor licensed under part 2 of this chapter.
(b) Each application must be accompanied by a bond of
$25,000 $50,000 and must be conditioned that the applicant shall
conduct business in accordance with the requirements of the law. All bonds must run to the state of Montana, must be
approved by the department and filed in its office, and must be renewed annually. A person who suffers loss or damage due
to the unlawful conduct of an auto auction licensed under this section may proceed in the same manner as provided for
licensed dealers and wholesalers in 61-4-101(3)(b).
(2) An auto auction's license must be renewed and paid for annually to the department, and an application for relicensure must be filed by January 1 of each year. The fee required for each first-time applicant is $500 and for subsequent renewal applications is $100 each year. Upon receipt of a properly completed application, fee, and bond, the department shall issue the auto auction license and assign an auto auction license number for each applicant in a manner determined by the department. Auto auctions dealing in motor vehicles may sell only to licensed dealers and wholesalers.
(3) Auto auctions that are licensed under this section and that hold a current license number may issue temporary permits, which may be displayed and used by a buyer to operate an unregistered vehicle purchased from the auto auction. The temporary permit is valid for a period of 72 hours from the time of purchase and may be used only for the purpose of driving or transporting a vehicle from the auction premises to the purchaser's established place of business or point of destination. Temporary permits must be on a form prescribed by the department and must contain the name, address, and license number of the purchaser, date of sale, name, address, license number, and authorized signature of the auto auction, and a description of the vehicle, including its serial number. The department shall collect a fee of $10 from the auto auction for each temporary permit, and the auto auction may charge a vehicle purchaser no more than $10 for the issuance of each permit to offset the cost of the permit. It is unlawful for the auto auction to issue more than one temporary permit per vehicle sale.
(4) A licensed auto auction may apply for and may be authorized by the department to purchase and use license plates of a type and amount approved by the department, upon payment of a fee to the department to offset the cost of production. Licensed auto auctions may use the license plates to transport inventory vehicles from a point of storage or a point of delivery in this state to the auto auction's place of business, for road testing authorized vehicles, or for moving vehicles for purposes of repairing, painting, upholstering, polishing, and related activities. One license plate is required to be conspicuously displayed on the rear of the vehicle. Auto auctions may appoint designated persons, partnerships, corporations, service stations, or repair garages to use the license plate only when conducting work for the auto auction involving repairing, painting, upholstering, polishing, or performing similar types of work upon a vehicle. Upon application for an auto auction license, the applicant, if requesting the license plates, shall submit a sworn affidavit on a form prescribed by the department, listing each authorized person designated by the auction to use the license plates. The auto auction is responsible for reporting any changes to the affidavit within 72 hours after the amendment has occurred. An auto auction licensed under the provisions of this section is liable for the proper use of the license plates, which may not be used for private purposes. The department may revoke an auto auction's 72-hour temporary permit and license plate privileges if an auction issues, authorizes the use of, or uses a temporary permit or the license plate in violation of the provisions of this section.
(5) (a) Each auto auction shall keep a book or record, in a form and manner subject to approval by the department, of the purchases, sales, or exchanges or the receipts for the purpose of sale of any motor vehicle, a properly completed copy of a temporary permit issued to a vehicle purchaser, the date of title transfer, and a description of the motor vehicle, together with the name and address of the seller, the purchaser, and the alleged owner or other person from whom the motor vehicle was purchased or received or to whom it was sold or delivered. The description in the case of a motor vehicle must include:
(i) the vehicle identification number
or and engine number, if any; and
other numbers or identification marks on the motor vehicle; and (iii) a statement that a number has been obliterated, defaced, or changed, if it has.
(b) An auto auction licensed under this section shall validate the sale of a motor vehicle through its auction by stamping its name and license number upon the certificate of ownership at a location on the front or back of the certificate, at the margin in the assignment section as executed between the transferor and transferee. An auto auction's stamp must be legible and may not interfere with the information recorded on the certificate between the transferor and transferee. If the certificate of ownership lacks adequate space for the auto auction to place its stamp, the auction may provide the transferee a copy of the auction invoice bearing the:
(i) name and license number of the auction, along with an indication of the vehicle year, make, model, and identification number;
(ii) name, address, and signature of the transferor;
(iii) name, license number, and signature of the transferee; and
the date the vehicle was sold through the auction.
(c) The invoice must be attached to the certificate of ownership and must be presented to the department with any application for title.
(d) An auto auction shall retain, for 5 years, odometer disclosure information, including the name of the owner on the date the auto auction took possession of the motor vehicle, the name of the buyer, the vehicle identification number, and the odometer reading on the date the auto auction took possession of the motor vehicle. The odometer information may be retained in any way that is systematically retrievable and is not required to be maintained on any special disclosure form. The information may be part of the auction receipt or invoice or be maintained as a portion of a computer data base or manual file. An auto auction that executes a transfer of ownership as an agent on behalf of a seller or buyer is liable for providing an odometer disclosure statement for the seller or an odometer disclosure acknowledgement for the buyer under the provisions of 61-3-206."
Section 4. Section 61-4-121, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-121. Twenty-day permit -- limitation on issuance and transfer -- violation -- penalty. (1) (a) A dealer may not issue more than one 20-day permit under 61-4-111 or 61-4-112 per vehicle sale.
(b) A dealer may not transfer 20-day permits to another dealer unless the dealer:
(i) notifies the department within 3 days of the transfer;
(ii) identifies to the department the dealer to whom any permits have been transferred;
(iii) informs the department of the date of the transfer and the quantity and serial numbers of vehicles covered by the transferred permits.
(2) A dealer who violates the provisions of subsection (1) is subject to revocation of the privilege to issue 20-day permits for a period of time determined by the department."
Section 5. Section 61-4-131, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-131. Definitions. As used in 61-4-131 through 61-4-137,
the following definitions apply: (1) "Department" means the department of commerce. (2) " Designated "designated family member" means the spouse, child, grandchild, parent, brother, or sister of a dealer who,
in the case of a deceased dealer, is entitled to inherit the dealer's ownership interest in the dealership under the terms of the
dealer's will, or who has otherwise been designated in writing by a deceased dealer to succeed him the deceased in the
motor vehicle dealership, or under the laws of intestate succession of this state or who, in the case of an incapacitated
dealer, has been appointed by a court as the legal representative of the dealer's property. The term includes the appointed
and qualified personal representative and the testamentary trustee of a deceased dealer."
Section 6. Section 61-4-133, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-133. Refusal to honor succession to ownership -- notice required. (1) If a manufacturer, factory branch,
distributor, or importer believes that good cause exists for refusing to honor the succession to the ownership and operation
of a dealership by a family member of a deceased or incapacitated dealer under the existing franchise agreement, the
manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, or importer may, within 30 days of receipt of notice of the designated family
member's intent to succeed the dealer in the ownership and operation of the dealership, serve upon the designated family
member and the department notice of its refusal to honor the succession and of its intent to discontinue the existing
franchise agreement with the dealership no sooner than
60 90 days from the date such the notice is served.
(2) The notice must state the specific grounds for the refusal to honor the succession and of its intent to discontinue the
existing franchise agreement with the dealership no sooner than
60 90 days from the date such the notice is served.
(3) If notice of refusal and discontinuance is not timely served upon the family member and the department or if the
department rules in favor of the complainant in a hearing held pursuant to 61-4-134, the franchise agreement
continue in effect subject to termination only as otherwise permitted by law."
Section 7. Section 61-4-134, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-134. Procedure to determine right to succeed. (1) Any designated family member who receives notice of the
manufacturer's, factory branch, distributor's, or importer's refusal to honor
his the family member's succession to the
ownership and operation of the dealership may, within the 60-day 90-day period, file with the department a verified
complaint for a hearing and determination by the department on whether good cause exists for refusal and discontinuance.
(2) The manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, or importer must establish good cause for refusal by showing that the succession would be detrimental to the public interest or to the representation of the manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, or importer.
(3) The franchise agreement
shall must continue in effect until the final determination of the issues raised in the complaint
adjudication by the department on the verified complaint and the exhaustion of all appellate remedies available to the
designated family member. The manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, or importer and the designated family member
shall abide by the terms of the franchise agreement and the laws of Montana during the appeals process.
(4) If the manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, or importer prevails, the department shall include in its order approving the termination of the franchise agreement reasonable conditions affording the complainant an opportunity to receive fair and reasonable compensation for the value of the dealership.
(5) Any decision by the department may be reviewed pursuant to
part 7, chapter 4, Title 2, chapter 4, part 7."
Section 8. Section 61-4-201, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-201. Definitions. As used in this part, the following definitions apply:
(1) "Community" means the relevant market area of a franchise. For the purposes of this part, the relevant market area of a franchise is the county or counties in which the franchisee is located.
(2) "Department" means the department of justice. (3)(2) "Distributor" or "wholesaler" means a person who sells or distributes new motor vehicles to new motor vehicle
dealers in this state or who maintains distributor representatives in this state. (4)(3) "Distributor branch" means a branch office maintained or availed of by a distributor or wholesaler for the sale of
new motor vehicles to new motor vehicle dealers in this state for directing or supervising its representatives in this state. (5)(4) "Factory branch" means a branch office maintained or availed of by a manufacturer for the sale of new motor
vehicles to distributors or for the sale of new motor vehicles to new motor vehicle dealers in this state or for directing or
supervising its representatives in this state. (6)(5) "Franchise" means a contract between or among two or more persons when all of the following conditions are
(a) a commercial relationship of definite duration or continuing indefinite duration is involved;
(b) the franchisee is granted the right to offer, sell, and service in this state new motor vehicles manufactured or distributed by the franchisor;
(c) the franchisee, as a separate business, constitutes a component of franchisor's distribution system; and
(d) the operation of the franchisee's business is substantially reliant on the franchisor for the continued supply of new motor vehicles, parts, and accessories.
(7)(6) "Franchisee" means a person who receives new motor vehicles from the franchisor under a franchise and who offers,
sells, and services such new motor vehicles to and for the general public. (8)(7) "Franchisor" means a person who manufactures, imports, or distributes new motor vehicles and who may enter into
a franchise. (9)(8) "Importer" means a person who transports or arranges for the transportation of a foreign manufactured new motor
vehicle into the United States for sale in this state. (10)(9) "Manufacturer" means a person who manufactures or assembles new motor vehicles or who manufactures or
installs on previously assembled truck chassis special bodies or equipment , which that, when installed, form forms an
integral part of the new motor vehicle and which that constitutes a major manufacturing alteration, but does not include a
person who installs a camper on a pickup truck.
(10) "New motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle that has not been the subject of a retail sale regardless of the mileage of the vehicle.
(11) "New motor vehicle dealer" means a person who buys, sells, exchanges, or offers or attempts to negotiate a sale or exchange or any interest in or who is engaged in the business of selling new motor vehicles under a franchise with the manufacturer of the new motor vehicles or used motor vehicles taken in trade on new motor vehicles.
(12) (a) "Retail sale" means the sale of a new motor vehicle.
(b) "Retail sale" does not mean a sale:
(i) of a new motor vehicle to a purchaser who is acquiring the vehicle for the purposes of a resale; or
(ii) that is the result of a transfer between two licensed new motor vehicle dealers."
Section 9. Section 61-4-205, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-205. Limitations on cancellation and termination. (1) Notwithstanding the terms, provisions, or conditions of
any agreement or franchise,
no a franchisor may not cancel, terminate, or refuse to continue a franchise unless the
franchisor has cause for termination or noncontinuance.
No A franchisor may not enter into a franchise for the purpose of establishing an additional new motor vehicle
dealership in any community in which the same line-make is then represented unless there is good cause for an additional
new motor vehicle dealership under a franchise and that it is in the public interest.
(3) If a franchisor seeks to terminate or not continue a franchise or seeks to enter into a franchise establishing an additional
new motor vehicle dealership of the same line-make, the franchisor shall, not less than
30 60 days prior to the intended
action, and the franchisee may, at any time, file a notice with the department of intention to terminate or not continue the
franchise or to enter into a franchise for additional representation of the same line-make. No A notice of intention to
terminate or not continue a franchise may be is not required from a franchisor until the conclusion of any review proceeding
of that intention offered to the franchisee under the franchise. This section does not apply to an intended termination or
noncontinuance of a franchise that the franchisee elects voluntarily, pursuant to a plan established by a franchisor, to submit
to binding arbitration.
(4) Upon receiving a notice of intention under the provisions of subsection (3), the department shall, within 5 days of
receipt of a notice of intention, send by certified mail, with return receipt requested, a copy of the notice to the franchisor
and to the franchisee whose franchise the franchisor seeks to establish, terminate, or not continue. If the notice states an
intent to establish an additional new motor vehicle dealership, a copy of the notice
shall must be sent within 5 days of
receipt to all franchisees in the community who are then engaged in the business of offering to sell or selling the same
line-make. Copies of notices shall must be addressed to the principal place of business of each recipient and to the statutory
agent of each corporate recipient. The department may also give a copy of the franchisor's notice to any other parties whom
the department may consider interested persons , such copy to be in the form and substance and given in the manner the
department finds appropriate.
(5) In instances where the change in ownership has the effect of the sale of the franchise, the franchisor may not without good cause withhold its consent to the sale. Good cause relates only to the transferee's financial and managerial capabilities or to the inability of the transferee to comply with a state or federal law relating to new motor vehicle dealerships. The burden of establishing good cause is upon the franchisor.
(6) Notwithstanding the terms, provisions, or conditions of an agreement or franchise, in the event of the sale or transfer of
ownership of the franchisee's dealership by sale or transfer of the business or by stock transfer to the dealer's or wholesaler's
spouse, son, or daughter, the franchisor shall give effect to
such a change the sale or transfer of ownership in the franchise
unless the transfer of the franchisee's new motor vehicle dealer's or wholesaler's license is denied or the new owner is
unable to obtain a license under the laws of this state.
(7) If a franchisor enters into or attempts to enter into a franchise, whether upon termination or refusal to continue another
franchise or upon the establishment of an additional new motor vehicle dealership in a community where the same
line-make is then represented, without first complying with the provisions of this part,
no a license under 61-4-101 through
61-4-105 may not be issued to that franchisee or proposed franchisee to engage in the business of selling new motor
vehicles manufactured or distributed by that franchisor."
Section 10. Section 61-4-206, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-206. Objections -- hearing. (1) A person who receives or is entitled to receive a copy of a notice provided for in
subsection (4) of 61-4-205(4) may object to the approval of the proposed action by filing a written objection with the
department within 15 days from the date the notice was received by the person entitled to receive the notice. If no an
objection is not filed within 15 days from the date the notice was received, the proposed action shall must be approved.
(2) If a timely objection has been filed, the department shall enter an order fixing the time, which
shall must be within 30
days of the date of the order, and place of a hearing on the objection and shall send by certified mail with return receipt
requested a copy of the notice provided for in subsection (4) of 61-4-205(4).
(3) The department may upon request continue the date of hearing for a period of 30 days and may upon application, but not ex parte, continue the date of hearing for an additional period of 30 days.
(4) Upon hearing or upon objection to the establishment of a new motor vehicle dealership, the franchisor has the burden
of proof to establish that good cause exists to terminate,
or not continue, or not establish the franchise. When there is an
objection to the establishment of a new motor vehicle dealership, the burden of proof that good cause does exist shall be
with the franchisor.
(5) The rules of evidence for
such a hearing provided for in subsection (2) shall be are the same as those found in chapter
4, Title 2, chapter 4. The department shall reasonably apportion all costs between the parties.
(6) The department may issue subpoenas, administer oaths, and compel the attendance of witnesses and production of
books, papers, documents, and all other evidence. The department may apply to the district court of the county in which the
hearing is held for a court order enforcing this section. The hearing
shall must be conducted pursuant to chapter 4, Title 2,
(7) A transcript of the testimony of each witness taken at the hearing
shall must be made and preserved. Within 30 days
after the hearing, the department shall make written findings of fact and conclusions and enter a final order.
(8) Any party to the hearing before the department may appeal pursuant to
chapter 4, Title 2, chapter 4.
(9) The franchise agreement must continue in effect until the adjudication by the department on the verified complaint and the exhaustion of all appellate remedies available to the franchisee. The franchisor and the franchisee shall abide by the terms of the franchise and the laws of Montana during the appeals process."
Section 11. Section 61-4-207, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-207. Determination of good cause. (1) In determining whether good cause has been established for terminating or not continuing a franchise, the department shall take into consideration the existing circumstances, including but not limited to:
(a) amount of business transacted by the franchise;
(b) investment necessarily made and obligations incurred by the franchisee in the performance of
his the franchisee's part
of the franchise;
(c) permanency of the investment;
(d) whether it is injurious to the public welfare for the business of the franchisee to be discontinued;
(e) whether the franchisee has adequate new motor vehicle facilities, equipment, parts, and qualified management, sales, and service personnel to reasonably provide consumer care for the new motor vehicles sold at retail by the franchisee and any other new motor vehicle of the same line-make;
(f) whether the franchisee refuses to honor warranties of the franchisor to be performed by the franchisee if the franchisor
reimburses the franchisee for
such warranty work performed by the franchisee; and
(g) except as provided in subsection (2)
of this section, failure by the franchisee to substantially comply with those the
written and uniformly applied requirements of the franchise that are determined by the department to be reasonable and
(2) Notwithstanding the terms, provisions, or conditions of an agreement or franchise, the following do not constitute good cause for the termination or noncontinuance of a franchise:
(a) a change in ownership of the franchisee's dealership; or
(b) the fact that the franchisee refused to purchase or accept delivery of a new motor vehicle, part, accessory, or any other commodity or service not ordered by the franchisee.
(3) In determining whether good cause has been established for entering into an additional franchise for the same line-make, the department shall take into consideration the existing circumstances, including but not limited to:
(a) amount of business transacted by other franchisees of the same line-make in that community;
(b) investment necessarily made and obligations incurred by other franchisees of the same line-make in that community in the performance of their part of their franchises; and
(c) whether the franchisees of the same line-make in that community are providing adequate consumer care, including
satisfactory new motor vehicle dealer sales and service facilities, equipment, parts supply, and qualified management, sales,
and service personnel, for the new motor vehicle products of the line-make
which shall include the adequacy of new motor
vehicle dealer sales and service facilities, equipment, supply of parts, and qualified management, sales, and service
Section 12. Section 61-4-208, MCA, is amended to read:
Coercion prohibited Prohibited acts. (1) A manufacturer of new motor vehicles, factory branch,
distributor, distributor branch, importer, field representative, officer, agent, or any representative thereof of the persons or
entities listed may not:
or attempt to coerce, or require a new motor vehicle dealer to: (1)(i) accept delivery of a new motor vehicle, a part, or an accessory therefor for a new motor vehicle or any other
commodity that has not been ordered by the dealer; (2)(ii) participate in or contribute to any local, regional, or national advertising fund or to participate in or to contribute to
contests, giveaways, or other sales devices; or
(iii) change location of the dealership or to make substantial alterations to the use or number of franchises or the dealership premises or facilities when to do so would be unreasonable, or without written assurance of a sufficient supply of new motor vehicles that would justify an expansion;
(iv) either establish or maintain exclusive facilities, personnel, or display space or to abandon an existing franchise relationship with another manufacturer that was established before [the effective date of this act] when those requirements are not justified by reasonable business considerations;
(v) refrain from participation in the management of, investment in, or acquisition of any other line of new motor vehicle or related products if the new motor vehicle dealer maintains a reasonable line of credit for each make or line of new motor vehicles and remains in compliance with any reasonable capital standards and facility requirements of the manufacturer; or
(3)(vi) enter into an agreement with a manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, distributor branch, or representative
thereof of the listed persons or entities or do any other act unfair to the dealer by: (a)(A) threatening to cancel or not renew a franchise existing between the manufacturer, factory branch, distributor,
distributor branch, or representative thereof of the listed persons or entities and the dealer; or (b)(B) threatening to withhold, delay, or disrupt the receipt of new motor vehicles or any motor vehicle parts or supplies
ordered by the dealer from the manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, distributor branch, importer, or representative or
agent thereof of the listed entities .;
(b) delay, refuse, or fail to deliver new vehicles in a reasonable time in reasonable quantity relative to the new vehicle dealer's facilities and sales potential after accepting an order from a new vehicle dealer if the new vehicles are publicly advertised as being available for immediate delivery; or
(c) impose unreasonable restrictions on the assertion of legal or equitable rights on the new motor vehicle dealer or franchise regarding transfer; sale; right to renew; termination; discipline; noncompetition covenants; site control, whether by sublease, collateral pledge of lease, or otherwise; or compliance with subjective standards.
(2) There is no violation of subsection (1)(a)(iii) or (1)(b) if a failure on the part of the manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, or distributor branch is beyond the control of the listed persons or entities."
NEW SECTION. Section 13. Manufacturer's right of first refusal. (1) Regardless of the terms of any franchise agreement, in the event of a proposed sale or transfer of a dealership, the manufacturer or distributor may exercise a right of first refusal to acquire the new vehicle dealer's assets or ownership. This may occur if the sale or transfer is conditioned upon either the manufacturer or dealer entering into a dealer agreement with the proposed new owner or transferee if all the following requirements are met:
(a) the manufacturer or distributor notifies the dealer in writing of the manufacturer's or dealer's intent to exercise the right of first refusal within 60 days of receipt of the dealer's written proposal for sale or transfer;
(b) the dealer and the dealer's owner receive the same or greater consideration as they have contracted to receive in connection with the proposed change of ownership or transfer;
(c) the proposed sale or transfer of the dealership's assets does not involve the transfer or sale to a member or members of the family of one or more dealer owners or to a qualified manager, partnership, or corporation controlled by a member of the family of a dealer owner; and
(d) the manufacturer or distributor agrees to pay reasonable costs and attorney fees relative to the proposed changes in ownership or transfer of dealership assets. In order for costs and fees to be payable, the dealer shall submit an accounting of the expenses within 20 days of the dealer's receipt of the manufacturer's or distributor's written request for the accounting. The manufacturer or distributor may request the accounting before exercising the manufacturer's or distributor's right of first refusal.
(2) This section does not affect any contractual right of a manufacturer or distributor to charge back to the dealer's account any amount previously credited or paid as a discount incident to the dealer's purchase of the vehicles.
NEW SECTION. Section 14. Codification instruction. [Section 13] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 61, chapter 4, part 1, and the provisions of Title 61, chapter 4, part 1, apply to [section 13].
NEW SECTION. Section 15. Saving clause. [This act] does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, or proceedings that were begun before [the effective date of this act].
NEW SECTION. Section 16. Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.