Overview of what we do for automobile dealers


Manning Leaver offers a wide range of legal services within the scope of its litigation and trial, general business law and automobile dealer law practice areas. Consistent with the firm’s longstanding approach, these services are provided in an efficient manner at reasonable rates.

Auto dealer practice - overview of what we do for automobile dealers

The best way to protect yourself

Based upon many years of legal experience, we are confident that an automobile dealer can minimize legal problems and save time and money in the long run by following a two-pronged approach: (1) hire a law firm with expertise in automobile dealer law; and (2) confer with them on developing a strategy that the dealer can employ to avoid legal problems in the future.

The expertise of Manning Leaver regarding automobile dealer law is of the highest level. This specialization is not a marketing strategy or the latest fad. The firm has been legal counsel for numerous automobile dealers and dealer associations, including the California New Car Dealers Association for many years, and has authored many publications relating to automobile dealer law. These publications include the California New Car Dealers Association Management Guide, an extensive legal guide for automobile dealers; the California Auto Dealer Law Manual, a manual that focuses in detail on the advertising laws that govern California automobile dealers; and the California New Car Dealers F&I Compliance Manual, a comprehensive manual covering the F&I process, including forms. Because the firm focuses on automobile dealer law on a daily basis, Manning Leaver is continually aware of the new developments which affect dealers.

The issues you face are unique

In addition to the legal issues generally faced by all businesses, automobile dealers are confronted with a variety of other regulatory restrictions and bureaucratic processes. Although dealers may be able to handle such matters on their own, many are best handled with the assistance of legal counsel familiar with automobile dealer law. Manning Leaver is a firm which has the expertise to provide this kind of assistance.

Consumer complaints – handled efficiently

Manning Leaver helps automobile dealers resolve customer complaints quickly and efficiently, including those that involve the DMV and the Bureau of Automotive Repair. We evaluate the merits of a claim early to best determine the appropriate strategy for resolving or litigating the matter.

Consumer litigation – we defend you in court

Manning Leaver provides quality representation in all aspects of litigation, including appellate matters and complex consumer class action lawsuits. We defend automobile dealers regarding all types of claims, including fraud and breach of contract claims, Lemon Law claims, violations of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, unfair business practice claims, violations of contract disclosure laws, personal injury, asbestos injury, and advertising law violations.

DMV accusations and law enforcement problems – handled with expertise

Manning Leaver defends automobile dealers against DMV accusations and also provides representation in connection with the appeal of DMV decisions to the New Motor Vehicle Board. We also defend dealers against license accusations and criminal charges brought by the California Attorney General, district or city attorneys, the Bureau of Automotive Repair, the Air Resources Board and others.

Regulatory compliance – comprehensive treatment

Manning Leaver assists automobile dealers in complying with the numerous regulations impacting the operation of a dealership, including those relating to advertising, licensing, privacy notices, identity theft protection programs, and information safeguard programs. These services are provided on an economical basis and in a manner which emphasizes the proper training of dealership personnel.

Advertising review – avoid violations

Automobile advertising is heavily regulated by numerous laws that are complex and highly technical. We provide legal compliance guidance in this area, including a review service that examines and gives input on print, television, radio, internet, and other ads before they are released. The California Auto Dealer Advertising Law Manual, a complete guide to dealer advertising in California, is a publication authored by Manning Leaver. Click here to see our special retainer program for reviewing vehicle dealer advertising.

F&I review/training program – avoid litigation

Many automobile dealers have avoided legal problems by engaging Manning Leaver to conduct a review of their sales and F&I practices. This program includes a review of a sampling of deal jackets and a seminar presentation to key dealership personnel designed to address and eliminate compliance issues before they become the subject of litigation.

Purchase and sale of automobile dealerships - experienced counsel

The sale or purchase of an automobile dealership (whether a stock or asset sale) is typically a complex transaction that can be difficult to close. Manning Leaver has handled hundreds of these transactions and provides all of the necessary legal services, including preparation of buy-sell agreements and related sale or lease agreements pertaining to real property, as well as guidance on factory approval issues, financing, and governmental licensing requirements. We also handle dealership buy-in transactions involving employees.

Repair shops – specialized regulatory compliance

Manning Leaver assists automobile dealers in complying with numerous regulations impacting the operation of an automobile repair facility, including those applicable to advertising, licensing and the forms used to perform service and repair work. For example, we make sure dealer warranty and repair invoice forms are compliant without sacrificing dealer rights and protections.

Franchisor issues and New Motor Vehicle Board matters – expert guidance

Manning Leaver provides legal guidance to automobile dealers regarding all types of franchisor issues. The firm also has the special expertise to represent automotive dealers before the California New Motor Vehicle Board. We have handled numerous protests from start to finish involving dealership terminations, add points, or relocation of dealerships.

Transactions with other dealers – prevent losses when you sell vehicles

Manning Leaver helps solve complicated issues of title and possession in dealer trade situations where vehicles are delivered but not paid for. We practice preventative law and help automobile dealers avoid losses by properly structuring transactions ahead of time.

Automobile repossession – safe and economical

Manning Leaver provides guidance on the safest and most economical way to have a vehicle repossessed. If necessary, we can go to court to secure a writ of possession to enable a sheriff or marshal to take possession of a vehicle.

Employment law – avoid penalties and risks

Compliance with employment law presents significant challenges for automobile dealers. The penalties for noncompliance can be severe. Manning Leaver provides compliance assistance to automobile dealers regarding employment practices. We also handle discrimination and harassment claims, privacy rights disputes, wrongful termination claims, wage and hour claims, customer list issues, and other employment matters.

Corporate law, contracts and business transactions – thorough treatment

Manning Leaver performs all legal work relating to the business operation of an automobile dealership, including the formation (and dissolution) of corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and the preparation of minutes and other housekeeping documentation. We prepare buy-in agreements and shareholder agreements covering such matters as the death, disability, and retirement of a shareholder. We also review vendor contracts to assist dealers in structuring such contractual relationships to the dealer’s best advantage.

Why automobile dealers choose the law firm of Manning, Leaver, Bruder & Berberich

Legal guidance you can count on

The attorneys at Manning Leaver understand the legal needs of automobile dealers. For over 70 years, the firm has provided quality legal services quickly, efficiently, and economically to automobile dealers. We take pride in the strong personal relationships we build with clients and our clients know they can call on us at any time and receive a prompt and professional response. Service to our clients is a basic component of the firm’s business philosophy.

Legal counsel to California New Car Dealers Association and other dealer associations

Manning Leaver is legal counsel to the California New Car Dealers Association, the largest state association of new motor vehicle dealers in the nation. The firm also represents dealer advertising associations, other local dealer associations, many dealers, and other dealer-related business and financial institutions.

Author of extensive legal books for dealers

Manning Leaver is the author of the Dealer Management Guide, an extensive and detailed legal guide for dealers distributed by the California New Car Dealers Association. This publication, which is periodically updated, contains in-depth discussions of the law on the topics covered by the following chapters: Advertising Sales Practices; Automobile Sales Finance Act; Consumer Automobile Leasing; Credit Reports and Decisions; Insurance; Privacy, Safeguards, Identity Theft and Red Flags; Autobrokers; New and Used Car Warranties; Service Contracts, Vehicle Repair and Modification; Liens on Vehicles and Lien Sales; Small Claims Court and Collection of Judgments; the New Motor Vehicle Board; DMV Investigations and Accusations; Sales and Use Tax; Wages and Hours; Wrongful Termination and Discrimination; Family and Pregnancy Leaves; Posting of Notices by Employers; Public Signs at Dealerships; Dealership Opening, Closing, and Licensing; Records Retention; and Other Important Topics.

We also authored the California Auto Dealer Advertising Law Manual and the F&I Compliance Manual, both of which are distributed by the California New Car Dealers Association.

Seminars conducted for automobile dealers

Manning Leaver, together with the California New Car Dealers Association, delivers seminars throughout the state to automobile dealers on areas of the law which significantly affect dealership business practices. Seminar topics have included Advertising Laws and Practices, Privacy Laws, and F&I Practices.

F&I review/training

We have an F&I review/training program. We examine a sampling of a dealer’s F&I paperwork and present a seminar at the dealership educating employees about proper F&I practices.

Leadership in the automobile dealer legal community

Manning Leaver has its finger on the pulse the legal issues facing automobile dealers. We actively participate in the defense of automobile dealers in the many complex cases filed against them and provide guidance to the rest of the dealer legal community. For instance, we were one of two law firms who primarily represented automobile dealerships directly on the Defense Steering Committee in the statewide class action lawsuit, Trygar v. HAK, Inc., et al., known as the Vehicle Leasing Cases. Additionally, we are able to monitor the filing of new lawsuits against dealers, and can inform our clients when a lawsuit has been filed against them.

We represent dealers throughout California and welcome clients from all parts of the state. Any one of our partners will be happy to answer any questions you might have. Call (323) 937-4730 and ask to speak to any one of the partners.