2013 New Jersey Revised Statutes
Title 56 - TRADE NAMES, TRADE-MARKS AND UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES
Section 56:10-7.4 - Additional practices prohibited.


NJ Rev Stat § 56:10-7.4 (2013) What's This?

56:10-7.4 Additional practices prohibited.

5.It shall be a violation of P.L.1971, c.356 (C.56:10-1 et seq.) for any motor vehicle franchisor, directly or indirectly, through any officer, agent or employee, to engage in any of the following practices:

a.To impose unreasonable standards of performance or unreasonable facilities, financial, operating or other requirements upon a motor vehicle franchisee.

b.To base the disapproval of the transfer, sale or assignment of a motor vehicle franchise, or any interest therein, on the ground that the proposed transferee is not a natural person.

c.To fail to compensate a motor vehicle franchisee for all reasonable costs incurred by the franchisee in complying with the requirements imposed on the franchisee by the franchisor relating to a product recall.

d.To utilize an arbitrary or unreasonable formula or other calculation or process intended to gauge performance as a basis for making any decision or taking any action governed by P.L.1971, c.356 (C.56:10-1 et seq.).

e.To own or operate or enter into an agreement with a person, other than an existing motor vehicle franchisee, to operate a retail facility for the servicing of motor vehicles, which is authorized to perform warranty service on motor vehicles manufactured or distributed by the motor vehicle franchisor. The establishment, relocation, reopening or reactivation of such a facility pursuant to an agreement with a motor vehicle franchisee shall be subject to the provisions of P.L.1982, c.156 (C.56:10-16 et seq.), except that paragraph (3) of subsection b. of section 8 of that act (C.56:10-23) shall not be applicable. Notice shall be given to motor vehicle franchisees in the same line make or makes within six miles of the proposed retail facility for the servicing of motor vehicles which is authorized to perform warranty service on motor vehicles manufactured or distributed by the motor vehicle franchisor.

f.To require an unconditional release from a motor vehicle franchisee without permitting the franchisee to except from the release any claims for outstanding financial obligations of the motor vehicle franchisor to the motor vehicle franchisee for which payment will not be made at or before the giving of the release.

g. (1) To require or attempt to require a motor vehicle franchisee to order or purchase a new or used motor vehicle, or any accessory or equipment thereof not required by law; or (2) to require or attempt to require a motor vehicle franchise to accept delivery of any motor vehicle, or any accessory or equipment thereof not required by law, which is not as ordered by the motor vehicle franchisee; or (3) to take or withhold or threaten to take or withhold any action, impose or threaten to impose any penalty, or deny or threaten to deny any benefit, as a result of the motor vehicle franchisee's failure or refusal to purchase, order or accept delivery of any such motor vehicle, accessory or equipment. This subsection shall not prevent a motor vehicle franchisor from requiring that a motor vehicle franchisee carry a representative inventory of models offered for sale by the motor vehicle franchisor.

h.To fail or refuse to sell or offer to sell to all motor vehicle franchisees in a line make every motor vehicle sold or offered for sale to any motor vehicle franchisee of the same line make, or to fail or refuse to sell or offer to sell such motor vehicles to all motor vehicle franchisees at the same price for a comparably equipped motor vehicle, on the same terms, with no differential in discount, allowance, credit or bonus, and on reasonable, good faith and non-discriminatory allocation and availability terms. However, the failure to deliver any such motor vehicle shall not be considered a violation of this section if the failure is not arbitrary and is due to a lack of manufacturing capacity or to a strike or labor difficulty, a shortage of materials, a freight embargo or other cause over which the franchisor has no control. A motor vehicle franchisor shall not require a motor vehicle franchisee to purchase unreasonable quantities of advertising materials, purchase special tools not required to properly service a motor vehicle or undertake sales person or service person training unrelated to the motor vehicle or meet unreasonable display requirements as a condition of receiving a motor vehicle.

i.Unless compelled by law or legal process, (1) if the customer has objected thereto in writing, to require a motor vehicle franchisee to publish, release, convey or otherwise provide information obtained with respect to any customers, contracts, products, services or other transactions of the motor vehicle franchisee which is not necessary for the motor vehicle franchisor to meet its obligations to consumers or the motor vehicle franchisee, including vehicle recalls or other requirements imposed by State or federal law, or for complying with the duties or obligations of the respective parties under the franchise; or (2) to release such information which has been provided to it by the motor vehicle franchisees to any third party.

j.To impose or attempt to impose any requirement, limitation or regulation on, or interfere or attempt to interfere with, the manner in which a motor vehicle franchisee utilizes the facilities at which a motor vehicle franchise is operated, including, but not limited to, requirements, limitations or regulations as to the line makes of motor vehicles that may be sold or offered for sale at the facility, or to take or withhold or threaten to take or withhold any action, impose or threaten to impose any penalty, or deny or threaten to deny any benefit, as a result of the manner in which the motor vehicle franchisee utilizes his facilities, except that the motor vehicle franchisor may require that the portion of the facilities allocated to or used for the motor vehicle franchise meets the motor vehicle franchisor's reasonable, written space and volume requirements as uniformly applied by the motor vehicle franchisor. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply if the motor vehicle franchisor and the motor vehicle franchisee voluntarily agree to the requirement and separate and valuable consideration therefor is paid.

k.To require or attempt to require a motor vehicle franchisee, or the owner or landlord of property on which a motor vehicle franchise is operated, to give a motor vehicle franchisor or any person under the control of the motor vehicle franchisor an interest in or option with respect to the real property on which the motor vehicle franchise is operated, to restrict the uses to which the facility at which the motor vehicle franchise is operated may be put during or after the term of the franchise, or to take or withhold or threaten to take or withhold any action, impose or threaten to impose any penalty, or deny or threaten to deny any benefit, as a result of the failure or refusal of a motor vehicle franchisee, property owner, or landlord to agree to or comply with any such demand or restriction. Nothing in this subsection shall be deemed to bar a voluntary agreement between a motor vehicle franchisor and a motor vehicle franchisee, or the owner or landlord of property on which a motor vehicle franchise is operated, to give the motor vehicle franchisor or the person under the control of the motor vehicle franchisor an interest in or option with respect to the real property on which a motor vehicle franchise is operated, or to restrict the uses to which the facility at which the motor vehicle franchise is operated is put, provided that separate and valuable consideration is paid for such interest, option or restriction.

l.To require or attempt to require a motor vehicle franchisee to relocate his franchise or to implement any facility or operational modification or to take or withhold or threaten to take or withhold any action, impose or threaten to impose any penalty, or deny or threaten to deny any benefit as a result of the failure or refusal of such motor vehicle franchisee to agree to any such relocation or modification, unless the motor vehicle franchisor can demonstrate that: (1) funds are generally available to the franchisee for the relocation or modification on reasonable terms; and (2) the motor vehicle franchisee will be able, in the ordinary course of business as conducted by such motor vehicle franchisee, to earn a reasonable return on his total investment in such facility or from such operational modification, and the full return of his total investment in such facility or from such operational modifications within 10 years; or (3) the modification is required so that the motor vehicle franchisee can effectively sell and service a motor vehicle offered by the motor vehicle franchisor based on the specific technology of the motor vehicle. This subsection shall not be construed as requiring a motor vehicle franchisor to guarantee that the return as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection will be realized.

m.Directly, or through any financial institution having any commonality of ownership with the motor vehicle franchisor, to require or attempt to require, or to take or withhold or threaten to take or withhold any action, impose or threaten to impose any penalty, or deny or threaten to deny any benefit, as a result of the failure or refusal of a motor vehicle franchisee to maintain working capital, equity, floor plan financing or other indications of financial condition, greater than the lesser of (1) the minimum required to operate the motor vehicle franchise based on the operations of the franchise over the prior 12-month period; or (2) an increase of no more than 5% over the prior calendar year, unless the motor vehicle franchisor, or the financial institution having any commonality of ownership with a motor vehicle franchisor, can establish that such failure or refusal prevents the franchisee from operating the franchise in the ordinary course of business. This subsection shall not apply if the working capital, equity, floor plan financing or other indication of financial condition is the result of an accommodation by the motor vehicle franchisor, or financial institution with a commonality of ownership with the motor vehicle franchisor, to the motor vehicle franchisee, containing specific terms and deadlines for the restoration of the motor vehicle franchisee's working capital, inventory, floor plan financing or other indication of financial condition, which accommodation is agreed to in writing by the motor vehicle franchisee.

n.To impose or attempt to impose any conditions on the approval of the transfer of a motor vehicle franchise, except as provided in section 6 of P.L.1971, c.356 (C.56:10-6).

o.To amend or modify the franchise of a motor vehicle franchisee, or any lease or agreement ancillary or collateral to such franchise, including in connection with the renewal of a franchise, if such amendment or modification is not in good faith, is not for good cause, or would adversely and substantially alter the rights, obligations, investment or return on investment of the motor vehicle franchisee.

p.To take or withhold or threaten to take or withhold any action, impose or threaten to impose any penalty, or deny or threaten to deny any benefit, because the motor vehicle franchisee sold or leased a motor vehicle to a customer who exported the vehicle to a foreign country or who resold the vehicle, unless the motor vehicle franchisor can establish that the motor vehicle franchisee knew or reasonably should have known, prior to the sale or lease, that the customer intended to export or resell the motor vehicle; provided, however, that it shall be presumed that the motor vehicle franchisee did not know or should not have reasonably known that the vehicle would be exported if the vehicle is titled or registered in any state or the District of Columbia.

q.To require a motor vehicle franchisee, at the time of entering into a franchise arrangement, any lease or agreement ancillary or collateral to a motor vehicle franchise, or any amendment, modification, renewal or termination thereof, to assent to a release, assignment, novation, waiver or estoppel, which would relieve any person from liability imposed by P.L.1971, c.356 (C.56:10-1 et seq.); provided that nothing in this subsection shall be deemed to prohibit a voluntary agreement between the motor vehicle franchisor and the motor vehicle franchisee which contains a release, assignment, novation, waiver or estoppel for which separate and valuable consideration is paid by the motor vehicle franchisor to the motor vehicle franchisee.

r.To provide any term or condition in any motor vehicle franchise, in any lease or other agreement ancillary or collateral to a motor vehicle franchise or in any renewal, amendment or modification thereof, which term or condition directly or indirectly violates P.L.1971, c.356 (C.56:10-1 et seq.).

s.To allocate vehicles to or evaluate the performance of a motor vehicle franchise based on, or offer any discount, incentive, bonus, program, allowance or credit that differentiates between vehicle sales by a motor vehicle franchisee within a territory or geographic area assigned to the motor vehicle franchisee and vehicle sales outside of such territory or geographic area.

L.1999, c.45, s.5; amended 2011, c.66, s.2.


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