Georgia Lemon Law (10-1-785 - 10-1-798)
- If a manufacturer does not replace or repurchase a nonconforming new motor vehicle after being requested to do so under subsection (b) of Code Section 10-1-784, the consumer may move to compel replacement or repurchase by applying for arbitration pursuant to Code Section 10-1-786. However, if a manufacturer has established an informal dispute settlement mechanism which the Attorney General has certified as complying with the provisions and rules of this article, the consumer shall be eligible to apply for arbitration only after submitting a dispute under this article to the informal dispute settlement mechanism.
- A consumer must file a claim with the manufacturer’s certified informal dispute settlement mechanism no later than one year after expiration of the lemon law rights period.
- After a decision has been rendered by the certified informal dispute settlement mechanism, the consumer is eligible to apply for arbitration pursuant to Code Section 10-1-786.
- If a decision is not rendered by the certified informal dispute settlement mechanism within 40 days of filing, the requirement that the consumer submit his or her dispute to the certified informal dispute settlement mechanism shall not apply and the consumer is eligible to apply for arbitration under Code Section 10-1-786.
- Certified informal dispute settlement mechanisms shall be required to take into account the principles contained in and any rules promulgated under this article and shall take into account all legal and equitable factors germane to a fair and just decision. A decision shall include any remedies appropriate under the circumstances, including repair, replacement, refund, and reimbursement for collateral charges and incidental costs. For purposes of this Code section, the phrase “take into account the principles contained in and any rules promulgated under this article” means to be aware of the provisions of this article, to understand how they might apply to the circumstances of the particular dispute, and to apply them if it is appropriate and fair to both parties to do so.
- A certified informal dispute settlement mechanism shall keep such records as prescribed by the Attorney General in rules promulgated under this article and shall allow the Attorney General, without notice, to inspect and obtain copies of the records. Copies of any records requested by the Attorney General shall be provided promptly to the Attorney General at no cost.
- A manufacturer may apply to the Attorney General for certification of its informal dispute settlement mechanism. The Attorney General may, in his or her discretion, impose requirements on an informal dispute settlement mechanism in order for it to be certified. Within a reasonable time following receipt of the application, the Attorney General shall certify the informal dispute settlement mechanism or notify the manufacturer of the reason or reasons for denial of the requested certification.
- At any time the Attorney General has reason to believe that a certified informal dispute settlement mechanism is no longer in compliance with this article, he or she may notify the manufacturer of intent to revoke the informal dispute settlement mechanism’s certification. The notice shall contain a statement of the reason or reasons for the revocation.
- The manufacturer shall have ten days from its receipt of notice of denial of requested certification or notice of intent to revoke certification to submit a written request for a hearing to contest the denial or intended revocation. If a hearing is requested, it shall be held within 30 days of the Attorney General’s receipt of the hearing request. The hearing shall be conducted by the Office of State Administrative Hearings following the procedures set forth in Chapter 13 of Title 50, the “Georgia Administrative Procedure Act.”
- No representation shall be made to a consumer that his or her dispute must be submitted to an informal dispute settlement mechanism that is not certified by the Attorney General pursuant to this Code section.
- A consumer shall request arbitration by filing a written application for arbitration with the Attorney General. The application must be filed no later than one year from the date of expiration of the lemon law rights period or 60 days from the conclusion of the certified informal dispute settlement mechanism’s proceeding, whichever occurs later.
- After receiving an application for arbitration, the Attorney General shall determine whether the dispute is eligible for arbitration. Manufacturers shall be required to submit to arbitration under this article if the consumer’s dispute is deemed eligible for arbitration by the Attorney General. Disputes deemed eligible for arbitration shall be assigned to an arbitrator or arbitrators appointed pursuant to Code Section 10-1-789.
- A consumer whose dispute is determined to be ineligible for arbitration by the Attorney General may appeal the determination of ineligibility to an arbitrator or arbitrators appointed pursuant to Code Section 10-1-789.
- If the arbitrator or arbitrators determine that the consumer’s dispute is eligible for arbitration, the arbitrator or arbitrators shall retain jurisdiction and the consumer’s dispute shall proceed in accordance with this Code section.
- If the arbitrator or arbitrators determine that the consumer’s dispute is not eligible for arbitration, a written decision shall be prepared and sent to the consumer and manufacturer by certified mail, return receipt requested.
- he decision of ineligibility may be appealed by the consumer under the provisions set forth in subsection (a) of Code Section 10-1-787. On appeal, the court shall consider only the issue of eligibility for arbitration.
- If the court finds that a consumer’s appeal from a determination of ineligibility is frivolous or has been filed in bad faith or for the purpose of harassment, the court may require the consumer to pay to the Attorney General all costs incurred as a direct result of the appeals from the Attorney General’s determination of ineligibility.
- A lessee shall notify the lessor of the pending arbitration, in writing, within ten days of the lessee’s receipt of notice that a dispute has been deemed eligible for arbitration and shall provide to the arbitrator or arbitrators proof that notice was given to the lessor. Within ten days of its receipt of notice from the lessee, a lessor may petition the arbitrator or arbitrators to be a party to the arbitration proceeding.
- The arbitrator or arbitrators shall make every effort to conduct the arbitration hearing within 40 days from the date the dispute is deemed eligible for arbitration. The hearing shall be held at a location that is reasonably convenient to the Georgia consumer. Failure to hear the case within 40 days shall not divest authority of the arbitrator or arbitrators to hear the dispute or void any decision ultimately rendered.
- If the arbitrator or arbitrators determine:
- That a reasonable number of attempts has been undertaken to repair and correct the nonconformity and that the manufacturer was given the opportunity to make a final attempt to repair and correct the nonconformity and was unable to correct it; or
- That a new motor vehicle was out of service by reason of repair of one or more nonconformities for a cumulative total of 30 days within the lemon law rights period, the consumer shall be awarded replacement or repurchase of the new motor vehicle as provided under Code Section 10-1-784. The arbitrator or arbitrators also may award attorney’s fees and technical or expert witness fees to a consumer who prevails.
- The decision of the arbitrator or arbitrators shall be in writing, be signed, and contain findings of fact and conclusions of law. The original signed decision shall be filed with the Attorney General and copies shall be sent to all parties. The filing of the decision with the Attorney General constitutes entry of the decision.
- A decision of the arbitrator or arbitrators that has become final under the provisions of subsection (a) of Code Section 10-1-787 may be filed with the clerk of the superior court, shall have all the force and effect of a judgment or decree of the court, and may be enforced in the same manner as any other judgment or decree.
- No arbitrator may be required to testify concerning any arbitration and the arbitrator’s notes or other records are not subject to discovery. This provision does not extend to testimony or documents sought in connection with legal claims brought against an arbitrator arising out of an arbitration proceeding.
- The decision of the arbitrator or arbitrators is final unless a party to the arbitration, within 30 days of entry of the decision, appeals the decision to the superior court. A party who appeals a decision shall follow the procedures set forth in Article 2 of Chapter 3 of Title 5, and any appeal shall be de novo; however, the decision of the arbitrator or arbitrators shall be admissible in evidence.
- If the manufacturer appeals, the court may require the manufacturer to post security for the consumer’s financial loss due to the passage of time for review.
- If the manufacturer appeals and the consumer prevails, recovery, in addition to the arbitrator’s award, shall include all charges incurred by the consumer during the pendency of, or as a result of, the appeal, including, but not limited to, continuing collateral and incidental costs, technical or expert witness fees, attorney’s fees, and court costs.
- A manufacturer which does not appeal a decision in favor of a consumer must fully comply with the decision within 40 days of entry thereof. If a manufacturer does not fully comply within the 40 day time period, the Attorney General may issue an order imposing a civil penalty of up to $1,000.00 per day for each day that the manufacturer remains out of compliance. The provisions of Code Sections 10-1-398 and 10-1-398.1 shall apply in connection with the imposition of a civil penalty under this subsection. It shall be an affirmative defense to the imposition of a civil penalty under this subsection that a delay or failure to comply was beyond the manufacturer’s control or that a delay was acceptable to the consumer.
The provisions of this article are not available to a consumer in a civil action unless the consumer has first exhausted all remedies provided for in this article.
- A motor vehicle arbitration panel shall resolve disputes between consumers and manufacturers arising under this article. The Attorney General, in his or her discretion, may operate the panel by contracting with public or private entities to conduct arbitrations under this article or by appointing individuals to serve as panel member arbitrators. An arbitrator shall be licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia and a member in good standing of the State Bar of Georgia or shall have at least two years’ experience in professional arbitration or dispute resolution. No arbitrator shall be affiliated with or involved in the manufacture, distribution, sale, lease, or servicing of motor vehicles.
- Panel member arbitrators and entities that contract with the Attorney General to provide arbitration services shall be compensated for time and expenses at a rate to be determined by the Attorney General.
- Each arbitration proceeding shall be conducted by either one or three arbitrators, each of whom is to be assigned by the Attorney General or contracted entity.
- Neither the Attorney General, an entity with which the Attorney General has contracted, nor any arbitrator shall be civilly liable for any decision, action, statement, or omission made in connection with any proceeding under this article, except in circumstances where the decision, action, statement, or omission was made with malice or gross negligence.
- No manufacturer, its authorized agent, new motor vehicle dealer, or other transferor shall knowingly resell, either at wholesale or retail, lease, transfer a title, or otherwise transfer a reacquired vehicle, including a vehicle reacquired under a similar statute of any other state, unless the vehicle is being sold for scrap and the manufacturer has notified the Attorney General of the proposed sale or:
- The fact of the reacquisition and nature of any alleged nonconformity are clearly and conspicuously disclosed in writing to the prospective transferee, lessee, or buyer; and
- The manufacturer warrants to correct such nonconformity for a term of one year or 12,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
A knowing violation of this subsection shall constitute an unfair or deceptive act or practice in the conduct of consumer transactions under Part 2 of Article 15 of Chapter 1 of Title 10 and will subject the violator to an action by a consumer under Code Section 10-1-399.
- The manufacturer shall have 30 days to notify the Attorney General that a vehicle has been reacquired in this state under the provisions of this article. The notice shall be legible and include, at a minimum, the vehicle year, make, model, and identification number; the date and mileage at the time the vehicle was reacquired; the nature of the alleged nonconformity; the reason for reacquisition; and the name and address of the original consumer. When the manufacturer resells, leases, transfers, or otherwise disposes of a reacquired vehicle, the manufacturer shall, within 30 days of the resale, lease, transfer, or disposition, notify the Attorney General of the vehicle year, make, model, and identification number; the date of the sale, lease, transfer, or disposition of the vehicle; and the name and address of the buyer, lessee, or transferee.
- If a manufacturer resells, leases, transfers, or otherwise disposes of a motor vehicle in this state that it reacquired under a similar statute of any other state, the manufacturer shall, within 30 days of the resale, lease, transfer, or disposition, notify the Attorney General of the transaction. The contents of the notice shall comply with the requirements of subsection (b) of this Code section.
- Manufacturers shall use forms approved by the Attorney General. The forms shall contain the information required under this Code section and any other information the Attorney General deems necessary for implementation of this Code section.
- A fee of $3.00 shall be collected by the new motor vehicle dealer from the consumer at completion of a sale or execution of a lease of each new motor vehicle. The fee shall be forwarded quarterly to the Department of Law for deposit in the new motor vehicle arbitration account created in the state treasury. The payments are due and payable the first day of the month in each quarter for the previous quarter’s collection and shall be mailed by the new motor vehicle dealer not later than the twentieth day of such month. The first day of the month in each quarter is July 1, October 1, January 1, and April 1 for each year. Consumer fees in the account shall be used for the purposes of this article. Funds in excess of the appropriated amount remaining in the new motor vehicle arbitration account at the end of each fiscal year shall be transferred to the general treasury. The new motor vehicle dealer shall retain $1.00 of each fee collected to cover administrative costs.
- The Attorney General shall have the power to enforce the provisions of this Code section. The Attorney General’s enforcement power shall include:
- The authority to investigate alleged violations through use of all investigative powers available under Part 2 of Article 15 of this chapter, the “Fair Business Practices Act of 1975”; and
- The authority to initiate proceedings, pursuant to Code Section 10-1-397, in the event of a violation of this Code section. Such proceedings include, without limitation, issuance of a cease and desist order, a civil penalty order imposing a civil penalty up to a maximum of $2,000.00 for each violation, and proceedings to seek additional relief in any superior court of competent jurisdiction. The provisions of Code Sections 10-1-398, 10-1-398.1, 10-1-402, and 10-1-405 shall apply to proceedings initiated by the Attorney General under this Code section.
- Except as provided in subsection (a) of Code Section 10-1-790, this article shall not create or give rise to any cause of action by manufacturers or consumers against new motor vehicle dealers. No new motor vehicle dealer shall be held liable by a manufacturer or a consumer for any collateral charges, incidental charges, costs, purchase price refunds, or vehicle replacements. Manufacturers and consumers shall not make new motor vehicle dealers party to an arbitration proceeding or any other proceeding under this article. A new motor vehicle dealer that is named as a party in any proceeding brought by a consumer or a manufacturer under this article, except as provided in subsection (a) of Code Section 10-1-790, shall be entitled to an award of reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation incurred in connection with such proceeding.
- The provisions of this article shall not impair any obligation under any manufacturer-dealer franchise agreement; provided, however, that any provision of any manufacturer-dealer franchise agreement which attempts to shift any duty, obligation, responsibility, or liability imposed upon a manufacturer by this article to a new motor vehicle dealer, either directly or indirectly, shall be void and unenforceable, except for any liability imposed upon a manufacturer by this article which is directly caused by the gross negligence of the dealer in attempting to repair the motor vehicle after such gross negligence has been determined by the hearing officer, as provided in Article 22 of this chapter, the “Georgia Motor Vehicle Franchise Practices Act.”
- A violation of this article shall constitute an unfair and deceptive act or practice in the conduct of consumer transactions under Part 2 of Article 15 of this chapter, the “Fair Business Practices Act of 1975”; provided, however, that enforcement against such violations shall be by public enforcement by the Attorney General and, except as provided in subsection (a) of Code Section 10-1-790, shall not be enforceable through private action under Code Section 10-1-399.
- Except as otherwise provided, this article is cumulative with other laws and is not exclusive. The rights and remedies provided for in this article shall be in addition to any other rights and remedies that are otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.
Ga. Code Ann., § 10-1-794, GA ST § 10-1-794
The statutes and Constitution are current with Acts 281 to 284, 287 to 288, and 290 to 292, 294, 309, 339, 345, 352, 372, 373, 381, 387, and 389 of the 2018 legislative session. The statutes are subject to changes by the Georgia Code Commission.
The Attorney General shall promulgate rules and regulations and establish procedures necessary to carry into effect, implement, and enforce the provisions of this article. The authority granted to the Attorney General pursuant to this Code section shall be exercised at all times in conformity with Chapter 13 of Title 50, the “Georgia Administrative Procedure Act.”
If any provision of this article or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this article which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this article are severable.
Any agreement entered into by a consumer that waives, limits, or disclaims the rights set forth in this article shall be unenforceable as contrary to public policy.
Rules, orders, actions, and regulations previously adopted which relate to functions performed by the administrator appointed pursuant to Part 2 of Article 15 of this chapter, the “Fair Business Practices Act of 1975,” which were transferred under this article to the Attorney General shall remain of full force and effect as rules, orders, actions, and regulations of the Attorney General until amended, repealed, or superseded by rules or regulations adopted by the Attorney General.
- Marques J. Carter Georgia Bar No: 105133
- Co-counsel, Thompson Consumer Law Group PLLC (Managing Attorney Russell S. Thompson IV, Arizona Bar No: 029098)
- Co-counsel, Weisberg Consumer Law Group PA (Managing Attorney Alex Weisberg, Florida Bar No: 0566551)
In Georgia and through this site, Marques J. Carter provides Lemon Law representation with Weisberg Consumer Law Group PA and litigates claims under state and federal consumer financial protection laws dealing with vehicles with Thompson Consumer Law Group. Click here for more information about these law firms and how they may be able to help you.