The New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled against a challenge to the state’s “dealer bill of rights” by farm-equipment makers, which had held up implementation of 2013 revisions to the state law.
John Deere & Co., Kubota Tractor Corp., Husqvarna Professional Products Inc. and others had argued that the law, initially written to protect automobile dealers from excessive demands by automakers, shouldn’t be extended to farm- and construction-equipment dealers, in part because it interfered with their existing franchise agreements. Husqvarna makes forestry, lawn and garden equipment.
On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court upheld the dealer bill of rights. That revised law had been scheduled to go into effect in September 2013, but the companies filed suit in August 2013.
The law includes sections that require manufacturers to show “good cause” before ending a dealer’s business, limit manufacturers’ ability to force dealers to sell their business, place limits on mandatory upgrades to facilities and require proper reimbursement for warranty work done by dealers.
“The court’s rejection of the out-of-state manufacturers’ attempts to quash competition and squeeze dealers out of business is a win for consumers and small businesses,” said Pete McNamara, president of the New Hampshire Auto Dealers Association.
The court left one avenue of appeal open. It asked a lower court to review a claim by Husqvarna that the law violates the so-called Pike balancing test, under which a court weighs the putative local benefits of a statute against the burdens it places upon interstate commerce.