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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 21. Securities And Retail Franchising
Agency 5. State Corporation Commission, Division Of Securities And Retail Franchising
Chapter 110. Retail Franchising Act Rules
11/27/2021

21VAC5-110-80. General requirements for preparation of disclosure documents; master franchises; electronic disclosure.

A. Disclosure instructions.

1. Disclose all required information clearly, legibly, and concisely in a single document using plain English.

2. The disclosure for each FDD item shall be separately titled and in the required order. Do not repeat the question in the FDD. Respond to each question fully. If the disclosure is not applicable, respond in the negative, but if an answer is required "if applicable," respond only if the requested information applies. Do not qualify a response with a reference to another document unless permitted by the instructions to that Item.

3. For each Item in the FDD, type the requirement's Arabic number and item title. Exhibits should be identified by a letter of the alphabet.

4. The disclosure must be in a form that permits each prospective franchisee to store, download, print, or otherwise maintain the disclosure document for future reference.

5. Separate documents (for example, a confidential operations manual) must not make representations or impose terms that contradict or are materially different from the disclosure in the FDD.

6. Use 8-1/2 by 11 inch paper for the FDD and other forms. All documents and disclosures must be readable, using not less than 11-point type.

7. Franchisors may prepare multistate disclosure documents by including nonpreempted, state-specific information in the text of the FDD or in a Virginia Addendum attached to the FDD. The Virginia Addendum may be included in an exhibit to the FDD. Any amendments to the franchise agreement may be included in the Virginia Addendum or in a separate exhibit immediately following the franchise agreement.

8. The two copies of the Item 23 receipt pages should be the last two pages of the FDD and should be attached after all exhibits.

9. Before furnishing a FDD, the franchisor must advise the prospective franchisee of the formats in which the FDD is made available, any prerequisites for obtaining the FDD in a particular format, and any conditions necessary for reviewing the FDD in a particular format.

10. Grossly deficient applications may be rejected summarily by the commission as incomplete for filing.

B. Retention of records.

1. Franchisors shall retain, and make available to the commission upon request, a sample copy of each materially different version of their disclosure documents for a period of three years after the close of the fiscal year in which the disclosure document was last provided to a franchisee or prospective franchisee.

2. For each completed franchise sale, franchisors shall retain a copy of the signed receipt for at least three years.

C. Master franchises.

1. When the applicant is a master franchisor seeking to sell master franchises (subfranchises), references in these regulations to "franchisee" include the master franchisee (subfranchisor).

2. The offer of master franchises (subfranchises) is an offer separate from the offer of franchises and usually requires a separate registration or exemption. A single application may register the sale of a single unit and multiunit franchises if the FDD is not confusing.

3. In an offering by a master franchisee (subfranchisor), "franchisor" means both the master franchisor and master franchisee.

4. Master franchisees (subfranchisors) must disclose the required information about the master franchisor, and to the extent applicable, the same information concerning the master franchisee.

D. Electronic disclosure.

1. A franchisor may deliver a franchise disclosure document over the Internet or by other electronic means, or in machine-readable media, provided:

a. The disclosure document is delivered as a single, integrated document or file;

b. The disclosure document has no extraneous content beyond what is required or permitted by law or regulation, but which may include customary devices for manipulating electronic documents in machine-readable form and tools or access to tools that may be necessary or convenient to enable the recipient to receive and view the disclosure document;

c. The disclosure document has no links to or from external documents or content;

d. The disclosure document is delivered in a form that intrinsically enables the recipient to store, retrieve, and print the disclosure document;

e. The disclosure document conforms as to its content and format to the requirements of applicable law or regulation;

f. The franchisor can prove that it delivered the disclosure document electronically in compliance with this subsection, and that it did so at or before the time required by applicable law or regulation; and

g. The franchisor keeps records of its electronic delivery of disclosure documents and makes those records available on demand by the commission.

2. For the sole purpose of enhancing the prospective franchisee's ability to maneuver through an electronic version of a disclosure document, the franchisor may include scroll bars, internal links, and search features. All other features such as audio, video, animation, pop-up screens or links to external information are prohibited.

3. "Delivery" requires that the disclosure document be conveyed to and received by the prospective franchisee, or that the storage media in which the disclosure is stored be physically delivered to the prospective franchisee in accordance with subdivision 1 a of this subsection.

4. This subsection does not change or waive any other requirement of law or regulation concerning registration or presale disclosure of franchise offerings.

E. Other requirements.

1. If the franchise agreement requires a franchisee to sign a release or waiver as a condition of consenting to some future action, such as a transfer or assignment of the franchise, include a sample copy of the document the franchisee will be asked to sign. This requirement does not apply to negotiated releases or waivers that a franchisee may sign to resolve a dispute with the franchisor.

2. The commission may modify or waive the provisions of this chapter or may require additional documentation or information.

Statutory Authority

§§ 12.1-13 and 13.1-572 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Case No. SEC950020 § 8, eff. July 1, 1995; amended, Virginia Register Volume 24, Issue 21, eff. July 1, 2008; Volume 25, Issue 22, eff. July 1, 2009; Volume 29, Issue 14, eff. March 1, 2013.

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