Today I’m going to talk about a case that, without a hint of doubt, will trigger someone into spewing the type of nonsense “that Spanish judges will favour Spanish nationals at the expense of the poor Brits, major investors in Spain and yet victims of a judicial system clearly biased, racist, etc.”
Well, the case is being heard in Tenerife where they also use the word “guiris” (the nick given to any foreigner originally from above the parallel running across central France and typically blonder than Spaniards), but where they have coined an equally derogatory name for mainland Spaniards: “godos”, which derives from “visigodos”, or Visigoths, post-Roman inhabitants of Spain and who originally came from Germany and Scandinavia and supposedly, invaded them many centuries ago.
So going to the “legals” of the case itself, I will mention that it involves the following:
- A deceased British property owner resident and re-married in Spain.
- Children from both marriages, 2 from the first, both British nationals, and a further Spanish national from the last.
- The existence of a Spanish will leaving everything to the Spanish son.
- The absence of property in the United Kingdom but the existence of a few real estate units in Tenerife, under his name.
- And a Spanish widow unwilling to share the estate…
Our clients, both British citizens and children of the deceased, from a previous marriage, and who had been left out of an inheritance they claimed they were entitled to, hired us to study the case and bring an action for the judicial recognition of their right to the estate of their late father.
In application of Spanish laws, but most importantly, pursuant to the findings of a Spanish Supreme Court ruling, it so happened that they had an entitlement, given that, although testators in England enjoy a basic freedom of testamentary disposition (under certain constraints), Spanish inheritance laws stipulate that a “legitim”, or minimum portion of the estate, should go to all children equally where the testator was
- British and
- had no assets in the U.K., due to a complex application of conflict or law rules that involved bouncing the matter to and fro between Spain and England.
Under Spanish provisions, one third should be going equally to all 3 children, and therefore our clients would be entitled, on paper, to 2/3 on 1/3, which works out at 1/9 each. And whereas the deceased’s Spanish widow opposed to sharing, her lawyer saw it convenient to settle with the above figures in mind, by means of a cash payoff.
Their proposal, not negligible given the size of the estate, was argued against on the basis of what we thought is a sound theory: that the testator had left out his British children on the basis of what he thought right and lawful, under his personal law, but that had he known that Spanish laws also protected his British children in the event of dying as a Spanish resident and holding only Spanish property, he would have wanted his estate to be bequeathed in equal shares.
And this is the direction of our petition, that they inherit 1/3 each, failing which we will still settle for the lesser portion of 1/9 each. And what about the risk of not settling? Since we filed a “cascade claim”, having the first petition for the higher portion dismissed (and the second accepted), would almost necessarily mean that legal costs would not be awarded: still worth the try I would say!
And what about the ethnically discerning judge? If he is Canarian, he will surely have nightmarish nights trying to choose between a half-Scottish half-Spanish defendant, the latter half originally from Germanic and Scandinavian lands, according to Canarians, and 2 half-Scottish half-Irish claimants, the first half also with substantial “Norsemen” blood, who are the Germanic people who inhabited Scandinavia in the Middle Ages which means that, by reference to blood lineage, we have solved the Judge’s tribal dilemma by boiling it down to a pure dispute between Scandis. Init Your Honour?