46.96.194  <<  46.96.200 >>   46.96.210

Sale, transfer, or exchange of franchise.

(1) Notwithstanding the terms of a franchise, a manufacturer shall not withhold consent to the sale, transfer, or exchange of a franchise to a qualified buyer who meets the normal, reasonable, and uniformly applied standards established by the manufacturer for the appointment of a new dealer who does not already hold a franchise with the manufacturer or is capable of being licensed as a new motor vehicle dealer in the state of Washington. A decision or determination made by the administrative law judge as to whether a qualified buyer is capable of being licensed as a new motor vehicle dealer in the state of Washington is not conclusive or determinative of any ultimate determination made by the department of licensing as to the buyer's qualification for a motor vehicle dealer license. A manufacturer's failure to respond in writing to a request for consent under this subsection within sixty days after receipt of a written request on the forms, if any, generally used by the manufacturer containing the information and reasonable promises required by a manufacturer is deemed to be consent to the request. A manufacturer may request, and, if so requested, the applicant for a franchise (a) shall promptly provide such personal and financial information as is reasonably necessary to determine whether the sale, transfer, or exchange should be approved, and (b) shall agree to be bound by all reasonable terms and conditions of the franchise.
(2) If a manufacturer refuses to approve the sale, transfer, or exchange of a franchise, the manufacturer shall serve written notice on the applicant, the transferring, selling, or exchanging new motor vehicle dealer, and the department of its refusal to approve the transfer of the franchise no later than sixty days after the date the manufacturer receives the written request from the new motor vehicle dealer. If the manufacturer has requested personal or financial information from the applicant under subsection (1) of this section, the notice shall be served not later than sixty days after the receipt of all of such documents. Service of all notices under this section shall be made by personal service or by certified mail, return receipt requested.
(3) The notice in subsection (2) of this section shall state the specific grounds for the refusal to approve the sale, transfer, or exchange of the franchise.
(4) Within twenty days after receipt of the notice of refusal to approve the sale, transfer, or exchange of the franchise by the transferring new motor vehicle dealer, the new motor vehicle dealer may file a petition with the department to protest the refusal to approve the sale, transfer, or exchange. The petition shall contain a short statement setting forth the reasons for the dealer's protest. Upon the filing of a protest and the receipt of the filing fee, the department shall promptly notify the manufacturer that a timely protest has been filed, and the department shall arrange for a hearing with an administrative law judge as the presiding officer to determine if the manufacturer unreasonably withheld consent to the sale, transfer, or exchange of the franchise.
(5) The administrative law judge shall conduct a hearing and render a final decision as expeditiously as possible, but in any event not later than one hundred twenty days after a protest is filed. Only the selling, transferring, or exchanging new motor vehicle dealer and the manufacturer may be parties to the hearing.
(6) The administrative law judge shall conduct any hearing as provided in RCW 46.96.050(2), and all hearing costs shall be borne as provided in that subsection. Only the manufacturer and the selling, transferring, or exchanging new motor vehicle dealer may appeal the final order of the administrative law judge as provided in RCW 46.96.050(3).
(7) This section and RCW 46.96.030 through 46.96.110 apply to all franchises and contracts existing on July 23, 1989, between manufacturers and new motor vehicle dealers as well as to all future franchises and contracts between manufacturers and new motor vehicle dealers.
(8) RCW 46.96.140 through 46.96.190 apply to all franchises and contracts existing on October 1, 1994, between manufacturers and new motor vehicle dealers as well as to all future franchises and contracts between manufacturers and new motor vehicle dealers.
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