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Getting Married In Spain: General Overview and Legal Issues For Foreigners In Irregular Situation

August 27th, 2013

It is a fact that most foreigners deciding to marry in Spain choose to engage legal representation to guide them through the legal aspects of their marriage  (a procedure that may appear to be -deceitfully- as straightforward as applying for a NIE), the reasons behind this decision being clear: legal and administrative complex laws and regulations, protracted timescales, unexpected requirements from Government offices, language barrier…etc.

The process to be followed for the validation and correct attestation by the different authorities abroad often leads to a tiring and exasperating process. There is not an homogeneous approach nor consensus in the listing of the required documentation and, in all fairness, Spanish authorities are not to be fully blamed for each country has different rules: for instance, a German citizen that wants to celebrate his/her marriage in Spain will not only need a birth and marital status certificate, but also a marriage capacity certificate that indicates if he/she is particularly able to marry the person chosen. This also happens to French citizens. For other nationalities, mainly those from Islamic countries, a certificate that states the applicant is not married to someone else will also be required as, in some of those jurisdictions, polygamy is legally recognized.

Therefore, it is not possible to offer a definitive time-frame for the process to be ended though, at least, these are the confirmed stages, common to the core procedure:

  1. Formal application form that has to be filed at the Civil Registry of the town where the union will take place, to be filed together with the documentation.
  2. Interview to bride and groom.
  3. Appointment with witnesses that will jointly sign the petition to the Judge.
  4. Obtaining the authorization from the Courts of Justice of the particular town so the marriage can be celebrated.

Following this authorization, available dates are offered to the couple.

Another relevant issue is the question hundreds of foreigners ask themselves every year, especially those who are in an irregular situation in Spain and wish to formalize their personal relationship with a Spanish resident:

Can I still marry in Spain if I am irregular?

The answer to this, which  has not changed for many years, is YES. And additionally, the law also grants equal rights to civil law partnership although, as envisaged, formalities will differ depending on the town where partners wish to register such formalization:

  • Some municipalities issue temporary by-laws based on recent irregularities, or either set fixed limitations as a consequence. For instance, only processing marriages and not Common Law partnerships for irregular foreigners ( see Cataluña (http://sociedad NULL.elpais NULL.com/sociedad/2012/05/01/actualidad/1335899751_106907 NULL.html)).
  • Some municipalities set that it is mandatory that one of the parties has been registered in the Town Hall ( empadronado ) for at least two years. This happens, for example, in the City of Malaga and surrounding districts ( Alhaurin de la Torre, Churriana, etc )

In line with the above, a further question that arises is

If a partner is in Spain irregularly and getting out of Spain implies the prohibition to re-enter in the following 12 months, how will he/she be able to arrange and gather the required documentation and legalization from the foreign authorities?

There are various options:

  1. Granting a Power of Attorney to his/her relatives or a legal representative in the home country to make dealings in his/her behalf.*
  2. Requesting assistance from Consular and/or diplomatic offices representing their home country in Spain.

*For Moroccan citizens, the previous registration of the applicant in the consulate is required to be able to deal with administrative matters. The applicant must have been registered ,normally, between 6 months and a year prior to any administrative request.

The current Policy framework allows for an ample discretionary nature on the part of the Civil Registries when determining the requirements, something that pushes foreigners to finally seek for legal aid and support,

Below is a list of the most commonly required documentation, as well as the legalization procedure for foreign official documents to be valid in Spain:

  1. Official Application form
  2. Passport copy of each partner
  3. Copy of the Residence card/certificate of the residing party
  4. Certificate of Town Hall Registration ( Empadronamiento ) and Joint Registration certificate (volante de Convivencia ), if required.
  5. Birth certificates of each partner ( attested as legally required and translated into Spanish by a sworn translator )
  6. Marital Status certificate and marriage capacity certificate for certain nationalities.

We include here the informative page (http://extranjeros NULL.empleo NULL.gob NULL.es/es/informacioninteres/informacionprocedimientos/documentos2/108 NULL.pdf) that describes in detail the foreign documents legalization process.

We welcome readers’ comments on particular obstacles, exceptional requirements, frustrating experiences and any other similar circumstances they may have found themselves in when dealing with the subject matter of this post.

Uncategorized , , , ,

Spanish Express Company Formation Now Available

July 14th, 2011

The so called Spanish Express Companies have finally arrived. You are now able to incorporate a company from scratch and operate with it within four days from the moment you decide on what you will be naming it.

The new regulations approved on the Royal Decree 13/2010 (http://noticias NULL.juridicas NULL.com/base_datos/Admin/rdl13-2010 NULL.html) which was passed last December has finally been implemented, and Notaries and Mercantile Registry officers have started to work in a whole new way. It was just last week that we, at Lawbird, incorporated the first express company, ready to be used and fully operative on the following day to the signing at the Notary office.

These companies bring an important reduction on the overall incorporation costs as notary and Mercantile Registry fees are reduced. This price drop follows the Stamp Duty exemption for limited liability companies in force since the passing of the mentioned law.

Incorporation Process

The process is summarized as follows:

  1. The company name is applied for and the certificate issued by the Central Mercantile Registry is obtained within in 24-48 hours.
  2. Soon-to-be Company shareholders and administrators meet at the Notary office (or their legal representatives if there is a Power of Attorney allowing them to sign in their behalf )
  3. Deeds are signed before the Notary, and the  tax ID code (CIF/NIF) is obtained immediately after. At this point the company is ready for basic operation.
  4. The notary itself submits the company deeds for registration at the Mercantil Registry, process which will take maximum seven working hours.
  5. Once you get the deeds back from the Mercantile Registry, the company is fully operational.

Limitations

It looks as a very simple process, and it certainly is. However, there are some limitations, as not all activities can take advantage of this new regulation. There is a list of specific company activities which these express companies can carry out, which is the following:

  1. Construction, Installations and Maintenance
  2. Wholesale and retail. Commercial Distribution. Import and Export.
  3. Real Estate Activities
  4. Professional Services (Law firms, Architect studios, etc.)
  5. Textiles and Manufacturing Industries
  6. Tourism, Catering, Restaurants and Hotel Industry
  7. Service Providers: Administration and Management Activities. Educational, Health care, leisure and entertainment services.
  8. Transport and Storage
  9. Information and Communications Bureau (Press)
  10. Agriculture, Stock breeding and Fishing
  11. Information Technology, Telecommunications and Office Automation
  12. Alternative Energies
  13. Buying and selling (dealers) and repair. Repairs and maintenance of machinery and installation.
  14. Investigation, Development and Innovation.
  15. Scientific and Technical Activities.

 

Corporate Law ,

Buying Property in Spain: In my Own Name or Using a Company?

July 7th, 2011

Buying a property in a company name is, in many respects, a good proposition, unless you ask certain lawyers who will tell you that it is always beneficial (for them, that is, from a financial perspective). Logically, giving incorrect, wrong or biased advice is never the desired option if you want to stay in business for the foreseeable future and therefore, in our case, we tend to use the following tax and legal points, or parameters, so that a client can make a judged decision.

Buying Property in Spain: In My Own Name?

Most property transactions in Spain have physical persons as buyers, for the reason that mortgage lenders are not keen to lend to property-holding companies and when they do, loan-to-value ratios rarely exceed 50%.

Advantages:

  1. Less upfront cost (no company incorporation cost).
  2. No associated company running costs.
  3. Improved ability to obtain finance.
  4. Lower Capital Gains Tax (average of 19% on net profit).

Disadvantages:

  1. For non-residents, Personal Income Tax (PIT) is applicable to the property: this annual tax is calculated by applying the tax rate (24%) on the base rate (between 1.1% and 2% of the rateable value or 50% of the purchase price, if the former value has not been approved).
  2. Visibility: The Spanish land registry system is accessible by anyone who registers with them, via internet, or without registering, by applying directly in their offices. This may not be in the interest of people who wish to remain anonymous for any reason (defaulting on contractual obligations abroad, matrimonial disputes etc.).
  3. Reduced ability to request a VAT refund, as the Tax Office will view a non-resident self-employed foreigner (registration as such will be required) as a less likely candidate for a refund, given the historical records of unfounded VAT claims on holiday property and a financially strained Tax office.
  4. Only certain costs and improvements on property can be deducted against the profit on selling, not annual running costs (unless one registers as a trader).

Buying Property in Spain: In the Name of a Company?

The pros and cons of incorporating a Spanish company to purchase a property are summarized below:

Advantages:

  1. No annual taxes on corporate tax after a recent tax law change. Company running cost will depend on the firm dealing with the bookkeeping, €120 per month being an acceptable fee.
  2. Ability to deduct property running costs from profits.
  3. Anonymity: A company will allow the shareholder and ultimate owner to limit the exposure to any third party ownership information request. For a full-proof anonymity situation, buying shares of an off-the shelf company and not being appointed as the director is essential (only a Judge, or the Tax Office, could request the shareholders books to be made visible).
  4. Improved ability to register as an actively trading to request a full or partial VAT refund.

Disadvantages:

  1. Set up costs: Law firms will generally charge anything between €1,000 and €3,000.
  2. Maintenance costs, compared with paying personal non-residents income tax, where the property has a rateable value of €300,000 or less.
  3. Capital Gains Tax: Corporation tax is currently at 20% for net profits of less than €300,000 per annum, and 30% thereafter. A retention on dividends payment is thereafter applicable, at 15%. Non-payment of this tax goes largely undetected.

Generally, it is established that buying a property in a company name is recommendable, in our professional opinion, where:

  1. There is no financing requirement to acquire the property.
  2. There is a need or desire for anonymity.
  3. The property has a rateable value of €300,000 or more, as non-residents PIT will be approximately €1,500 per annum, as opposed to a company running cost of around the same value (irrespective of the value of the property).
  4. The purchase of the property attracts input VAT (new property sale), which is susceptible of being offset against output VAT, where the company embarks on a genuine activity, i.e. property is rented to another company (private individuals do not pay VAT on rental) or used for any other commercial activity, or in the event that the property is refurbished and then sold on.

And what about companies Gibraltar and other offshore jurisdictions?

I have already dealt with this on a previous post, from a rather negative point of view, even if it may have certain benefits.

Property

Bank of Spain Raises Real Estate Provisions Set Aside by Lenders

May 27th, 2010

It was highly anticipated since January this year that the Bank of Spain would raise –yet again– the provisions lenders have to set aside on real estate assets held in their portfolios as a result of NPL (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/home-repossessions-in-spain-defaulting-on-mortgage)’s or on accepting daciones en pago (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/spanish-mortgage-dacion-en-pago-handing-keys-bank) from ailing developers or struggling borrowers. The purpose of these provisions is to offset the likely capital depreciation.

Lenders are required to set aside 10% on adjudicating themselves these assets and deposit it before the BoS. If after 12 months the asset remains in their books they have to set aside an additional 10%. If a further 12 months go by a further 10%. So basically after 24 months they are unable to offload these real estate assets from their portfolio they must set aside provisions for 30%.

So the BoS not only has raised these provisions but additionally has also proposed to shorten the timeline to deposit them down from 24 months to 12 months. The outlined proposal will bring serious consequences on many fronts:

i) As a direct result lenders will suffer a further impact on their already deteriorating balance sheets as they will have to allocate additional funds to offset asset depreciation which sincerely couldn’t come at a worst time as credit is tight. Spanish savings banks will foreseeably suffer the greatest with this change to the point that some may even collapse (http://www NULL.cotizalia NULL.com/en-exclusiva/cajas-colapso-provisiones-banco-espana-20100527 NULL.html). The BoS itself estimates the huge impact of yesterday’s change in a reduction of 10%, on average, of Spanish banks’ pre-tax profit.

ii) Indirectly, as I had already anticipated in my article on “Advice to Struggling Mortgage Borrowers (http://www NULL.levantelifestyle NULL.com/index NULL.php?mod=art_det&art_id=707)”, this change in law would have as collateral victims those borrowers that seeked to hand the keys (http://belegal NULL.com/forums/showthread NULL.php?t=622) in lieu of being repossessed (AKA as Dación en Pago de Deuda (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/spanish-mortgage-dacion-en-pago-handing-keys-bank)). Lenders were already increasingly reluctant on accepting them due to the BoS continued raises in these generic provisions in 2008, 2009 and now 2010. This is explained in detail in this post (http://belegal NULL.com/forums/showthread NULL.php?t=73&page=15#150).

What the above translates into, for practical purposes, is that when I wrote in my article on Dación en Pago on 2007 that as a rule-of-thumb 20% of positive equity was required (AKA no-negative equity rule) for a lender to accept a dación procedure the collar must now be raised to 30 or maybe even 40% following the changes in law over the last three years. If you compound this with a foreseeable hike of interest rates by the ECB by this year’s fall or early next year you have brewed a perfect storm for struggling Spanish mortgage borrowers who will no longer have this option available and will most likely be repossessed (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/home-repossessions-in-spain-defaulting-on-mortgage) by their lenders on slipping into arrears.

And the reason is simple, property prices of new-build second homes on the Spanish coasts have fallen by an average of 40% from the appraisal value as the BoS itself acknowledges with the proposal of change in law. So it will be hard to find off-plan properties with 30 or 40% positive equity in them built over the last five years as borrowers typically took 80% or 100% LTV mortgage loans to acquire them. There simply isn’t enough equity left in such cases with such high LTV loans when you compound asset depreciation (- 40% on average). Which is why I think that properties built post 2005 are now probably in the red zone for the purposes of following a dación en pago procedure as owners will be unable to fulfill lenders’ new criteria to accept them.

The Dación en Pago was a solution of last resort to waive the dire consequences of a full-blown Spanish repossession procedure with everything that it entails (personal and unlimited liability with all your assets, both now and in the future); sadly, even this has probably now been removed as an option for all those who purchased with a mortgage loan post 2004 following the proposal announced yesterday by the BoS.

Source: Cotizalia (http://www NULL.cotizalia NULL.com/noticias/exprime-banca-provisiones-tocado-beneficio-20100526 NULL.html) and Expansión (http://www NULL.expansion NULL.com/2010/05/26/economia-politica/1274892946 NULL.html)

 

Related articles:

  • Buying Property In Spain Tips Part II. Off-Plan Property (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/buying-off-plan-property-in-spain) – 18th April 2010
  • Advice to Struggling Mortgage Borrowers (http://www NULL.levantelifestyle NULL.com/index NULL.php?mod=art_det&art_id=707) -13th April 2010
  • 10 Common Abusive Clauses in Spanish Mortgage Loans (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/10-common-abusive-clauses-in-spanish-mortgage-loans) – 4th June 2009
  • The Dación en Pago Explained (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/spanish-mortgage-dacion-en-pago-handing-keys-bank) – 28th March 2009
  • The Dación en Pago Procedure – 21st November 2008
  • Bank Repossessions in Spain: A Legal Perspective (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/home-repossessions-in-spain-defaulting-on-mortgage) – 25th June 2008

Property, Taxes , , , , , , ,

Spain’s Wealth Tax Reloaded

May 20th, 2010

So much for “green shoots”. Spain’s Government is mulling over resurrecting Wealth tax which was suppressed, albeit not abolished, as of the 1st January 2008.

In a new attempt to prop up its dwindling coffers the Government is now seriously considering bringing back to life this tax as reported this morning by the Spanish press at large. To sweeten up the deal it will be presumably modeled after France’s, which applies a sliding scale on estates north of €790,000. So basically this “new” Wealth tax would tax, presumably, only those who are deemed “affluent”.

This is a political concession from Zapatero to the left-wing establishment on the wake of last week’s hugely unpopular financial reforms, which were essential and maybe even fell short. His announcement on Wednesday the 12th of May before the Congress on adopting unprecedented harsh financial measures to keep the Budget Deficit at bay created a shockwave of social upheaval which ripples are still being felt a week later with syndicate announcements of strikes. His announcement came after he was phoned on the eve before by no less than US President Obama (http://news NULL.bbc NULL.co NULL.uk/2/hi/8679222 NULL.stm)himself and China’s PM Hu Jintao amid concerns on Spain’s spiralling debt; not to mention Merkel’s public announcements of early last week on taking control if necessary. You really couldn’t make it up, could you?

These measures (http://www NULL.elpais NULL.com/articulo/espana/nuevas/medidas/Gobierno/quiere/ahorrar/15000/millones/elpepuesp/20100512elpepunac_5/Tes) (i.e. reducing by 5% public servants’ salaries, freezing public pensions, supressing baby checks) caused great anger as it afflicted the weaker core of society. In an effort to counteract the heavy criticisms the Government is now preparing a new batch of tax novelties targeting the “rich”. A Government’s spokeswoman understanded by rich as those having more than €45,000 stashed in a bank. To affirm these financial measures seem somewhat, erm, improvised would be an understatement. 

Honestly, whatever next?

Source: El Mundo (http://www NULL.elmundo NULL.es/mundodinero/2010/05/19/economia/1274280458 NULL.html)

 

EDIT: 15:30PM

Spain’s Government has just officially announced the creation of a “new” Wealth tax on estates valued in excess of one million euros.

Source: El Economista (http://www NULL.eleconomista NULL.es/economia/noticias/2161797/05/10/El-Gobierno-aprobara-un-nuevo-impuesto-para-las-rentas-superiores-a-un-millon-de-euros NULL.html)

 

(http://www NULL.elmundo NULL.es/mundodinero/2010/05/19/economia/1274280458 NULL.html)

Related articles:

Taxes , , ,

EU Pulls the Stops and Vows to Put and End to Inheritance Taxation Discrimination on Non-Resident Beneficiaries Inheriting in Spain

May 20th, 2010

Here we go again. As explained in my article on “Spanish Inheritance Tax: Advantages of Making a Will in Spain (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/spanish-inheritance-tax-spain-iht)” the matter of Inheritance taxation is a fairly complex and technical one compounded by the fact that the 17 autonomous regions of which Spain is made can rule on this matter besides the State.

Spurred by protests of non-residents inheriting in Spain (are you to blame Arthur?), Brussels has taken a closer look at this matter and has informed Spain that it gives it a 2 month’s deadline to set the record straight or else it will send the matter off to the European Court of Justice to rule on this issue. In any case don’t hold your breath, it will take some time to sort out.

In Spain there’s an ongoing trend to abolish Inheritance tax, especially in regions under the political control of the conservative party. This has created a three-tier system, speaking broadly, where you have on the one hand an increasing minority of regions which have gone as far as almost suppressing this tax whereas on the other hand you have a majority that apply generous tax allowances without actually suppressing it (i.e. Andalucía). Regional tax allowances are applied only to resident beneficiaries on one of the said regions.

On a third level you have the State regulation which has the least generous tax allowances and is applied to non-residents inheriting in Spain. Beneficiaries of an inheritance resident in one of these regions can take advantage of these generous regional tax allowances which in many cases almost suppress the Inheritance taxable base.

However non-resident beneficiaries inheriting in one of Spain’s regions may be faced with a hefty taxation bill (specially on large estates or when the named beneficiaries are non-family members) as it’s only the State law that is applied in their case in lieu of the more lenient regional laws. This amounts to a formal discrimination between residents and non-residents. These provisions are deemed to be incompatible with the free movement of workers and capital which the founding EEC Treaty of Rome enshrines. Brussels wants for non-resident beneficiaries to have application of State law waived and instead apply regional laws which are more tax-friendly. The problem will be deciding on the “connecting factor”. You can read in English the European Commission’s press release on following this link. (http://ec NULL.europa NULL.eu/taxation_customs/resources/documents/common/infringements/factsheet/2010/05/2010-05-513-es-tax-personal_en NULL.pdf)

Following what’s happened in similar cases, we can safely assume that non-resident beneficiaries will be able to benefit in the future from the generous regional tax allowances that are now reserved exclusively to those holding resident status in one of Spain’s 17 different regions. Again, this new regulation will greatly reduce lawyer’s headaches. One just cannot stop himself from having warm feelings towards Brussel’s legislators that keep making our life’s easier.

Related articles:

  • New EU Regulation to be Passed on Succession and Wills -18th May 2010
  • Spanish Inheritance Tax: Advantages of Making a Will in Spain (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/spanish-inheritance-tax-spain-iht) – 3rd September 2009
  • Free Testamentary Disposition for UK Citizens: Only if You Own Property in the UK (http://belegal NULL.com/blog-by-antonio-flores/free-testamentary-disposition-for-uk-citizens/) – 22nd October 2008
  • Spanish Inheritance Tax Abolished? I’m Afraid Not! 19th September 2008
  • Ways on How to Avoid Inheritance Tax on Spanish Property (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.com/articles/showArticle/how-to-avoid-spanish-inheritance-tax-on-spanish-property) – 22nd June 2005
  • Applicable Inheritance Law to Estate Located in Spain (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.com/articles/showArticle/spanish-estate-inheritance) – 16th April 2004
  • Spanish Inheritance Tax: How much is it? (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/spain-inheritance-tax) – 1st February 2000

Inheritance, Taxes , , , , ,

New EU Regulation to be Passed on Succession and Wills

May 18th, 2010

Every year 450,000 successions are bogged down on cross-border issues relating to the applicable laws. The EU has decided to adopt regulation to help avoid all the related problems that these transnational inheritance cases give way to.

This new regulation, known as the “Brussels IV Regulation”, purports to create a “European Certificate of Inheritance” which endeavours to harmonise the winding-up of the estate procedure to be followed. This certificate is devised to greatly simplify succession procedures throughout all EU-member countries and will hinge on the person’s last “habitual residency” to determine which succession laws ought to be applied. Additionally, this new regulation will also allow testators to choose which regulation should be applied to dispose of their assets and rights.

This regulation is not expected to be approved before 2011/2012. You can find a draft of this interesting new law in English here. (http://www NULL.justice NULL.gov NULL.uk/consultations/docs/ec-succession-wills NULL.pdf)

In case you are worried that Brussels will meddle on your deathbed dictating on your overseas estate you ought to know that both Ireland and the U.K.’s Government have opted out of its application, at least in its present form. So for the time being if you hold either of these citizenships you shouldn’t be too worried.

In any case let me close adding that this new regulation is geared towards making European succession procedures run smoothlier and more efficiently; they are not passed to curtail your national rights. Besides it’ll make us lawyers’ life’s easier… and that cannot possibly be wrong, can it?

Related articles:

  • Spanish Inheritance Tax: Advantages of Making a Will in Spain (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/spanish-inheritance-tax-spain-iht) – 3rd September 2009
  • Free Testamentary Disposition for UK Citizens: Only if You Own Property in the UK (http://belegal NULL.com/blog-by-antonio-flores/free-testamentary-disposition-for-uk-citizens/) – 22nd October 2008
  • Spanish Inheritance Tax Abolished? I’m Afraid Not! 19th September 2008
  • Ways on How to Avoid Inheritance Tax on Spanish Property (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.com/articles/showArticle/how-to-avoid-spanish-inheritance-tax-on-spanish-property) – 22nd June 2005
  • Applicable Inheritance Law to Estate Located in Spain (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.com/articles/showArticle/spanish-estate-inheritance) – 16th April 2004
  • Spanish Inheritance Tax: How much is it? (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/spain-inheritance-tax) – 1st February 2000

Inheritance , , , , ,

Plagiarism: Flattery or Just Plain Stealing?

May 7th, 2010

Since founding of the belegal.com website (http://belegal NULL.com/about/) in August 1999, we have been publishing articles and blog posts on legal matters that were of interest to the Expat Community. These articles are written with the aim of providing insight to legal topics that continuously crop up in the free legal queries’ section (http://belegal NULL.com/questions/askALawyer/) to which we’ve been replying to, on a daily basis, for over a decade now.

Some people like our articles and blog posts so much that they happen to borrow them from our article archive (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArchive) and/or blogs (http://belegal NULL.com/blogs/) and include them in their own blogs or corporate websites crediting us as the authors as well as placing a working link back to our website, which is just fine by us. Yet a minority decides to take a step further crossing the red line, removing the names of the lawyers that wrote them so as to cheekily credit themselves as the authors! Some would argue that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, albeit in our opinion profiting from other’s hard work whilst taking credit for it is just too much to bear with. We certainly do not regard it as flattery, and take legal action against offenders when appropriate.

In Spain, articles, blog posts and in general all original written material is protected by Spain’s Intellectual Property Laws (Royal Decree 1/1996). Moreover, Spain’s Penal Code in its Chapter XI protects author’s Intellectual Property Rights against plagiarism in three articles no less (articles 270-272 (http://noticias NULL.juridicas NULL.com/base_datos/Penal/lo10-1995 NULL.l2t13 NULL.html#c11s1)), which have associated to them prison sentence, ranging from 6 months to 4 years. All an offended needs doing is file a denuncia against the offender. As an example, two people were arrested in Torremolinos (http://www NULL.diariosur NULL.es/20080714/local/malaga/detenidos-torremolinos-plagiar-pagina-200807142046 NULL.html), and were taken into custody for plagiarizing just one article from a website.

Furthermore, all our articles are protected with Copyscape (http://www NULL.copyscape NULL.com/)software, so sooner or later we are bound to catch all those using them without authorisation. Over the last decade we’ve caught over a hundred websites using them unlawfully, as well as seven lawyers, both Spanish and British, all of which apologized. Native English speakers may be harder to hound, because, on mastering English, they are able to sneakily change the wording, producing what they think is an “original” work that makes our copied articles more difficult to track down. Amending or tweaking written content to fool search engines is still regarded as plagiarism and only buys them some time; regardless, they will be held personally liable when found.

As written above, and as per the site copyright policy (http://belegal NULL.com/about/copyright), we have no problem in anyone using our legal articles in their own websites so long as they comply with two simple requirements:

  1. Crediting the lawyer who  wrote them, either as a source or as the author, as appropriate.
  2. Placing a working link back to our website where these articles were originally published.

On complying with the above, there is absolutely no need to previously contact us to request our permission to publish them. Hundreds of websites, spanning from mortgage brokers to real estate agencies, use our legal articles unhampered. We only contact those whom we feel abuse us taking unfair advantage of our hard work by not crediting us as the authors or even going as far as removing us and crediting themselves as the authors of our articles!

Spot The Differences

The following three companies have been previously contacted by us allowing them the chance, at their choice, to either remove our articles from their websites or else credit us as the authors. None of them apologized.

 

Examples of plagiarism:

Idealspain.com

  • Drunk Driving Offence in Spain (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.com/articles/showArticle/drunk-driving) – Our original article published on the 1st March 2001.
  • Drinking and Driving in Spain (http://www NULL.idealspain NULL.com/Pages/Information/drinkdrive NULL.htm) – “Inspired” article, both unsigned and undated.

Malaga Law Solicitors

  • Dissolution of Joint Property Ownership in Spain (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/dissolution-of-joint-property-ownership-in-spain) – Our registered article published on the 14th November 2007.
  • Deed of dissolution of joint property ownership (http://www NULL.malagalaw NULL.com/news/guides/deedofdissolution NULL.asp) – “Inspired” article written in late 2008, both unsigned and undated. 

Adding insult to injury is the fact that the only original contribution to it happens to be incorrect legal advice regarding the retention of 3% practiced to non-fiscal residents applied by The Spanish Tax office, which our original article explains correctly.

Tumbit.com

  • Bank Repossessions in Spain: A Legal Perspective (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/home-repossessions-in-spain-defaulting-on-mortgage) – Our registered article written in 2007 and published on the 25th June 2008.
  • When you can’t pay the Mortgage (http://www NULL.tumbit NULL.com/how-to-guides/articles/45-when-you-cant-pay-the-mortgage NULL.html) – “Inspired” article from late 2009, both unsigned and undated.

Uncategorized

Polaris World Avoids Falling Into Insolvency

April 23rd, 2010

As we had previously reported, PW was on the brink of filing for Insolvency if it failed to renegotiate 85 million euros of debt. It had already negotiated successfully to refinance over 900 million euros.

PW has successfully waived filing for receivership on reaching an agreement late last night with CAM, Bancaja, Bank Popular and Bank of Valencia to sell assets for the amount of 83 million euros. In exchange PW has transferred ownership of dwellings, golf courses, plots of land and hotels. It has taken PW the last 4 months to re-negotiate its debt commitments. Official confirmation will be today.

The group of companies affected by the possible insolvency were two hotels (Mar Menor Golf Hotel and La Torre Polaris Hotel), El Valle Golf Resort, Polaris World Sports Centre, Polaris Desarrollo, Hacienda Riquelme, Polaris World Development, Polaris World Alquiler de Maquinaria Industrial, Polaris World Hormigones, Polaris World Real Estate, Hacienda Verde, Nicklaus Golf Trail, Mar Menor Golf Hotel, La Torre Polaris Hotel, Centro Comercial El Oasis de Alhama, Oasis Polaris Ciudad, y Alhama Golf Resort.

Currently it has 700 employees which is a long shot from the 2,000 it used to employ in the boom years.

Source: La Verdad (http://www NULL.laverdad NULL.es/murcia/v/20100423/region/polaris-world-elude-precipicio-20100423 NULL.html)

Property, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , ,

Bank Santander Estimates Property Prices in Spain Fell an Average of 50% on the Costas and 30% in Cities

April 21st, 2010

Bank Santander released yesterday a report titled “The Contrarian View” which upholds that market adjustment in Spain’s property sector has now almost concluded. Indeed, living up to its name, it’s a contrarian view.

They estimate property prices have fallen on average 20 to 30% in large Spanish cities. These properties are in the vast majority main residences. The major fall has taken place on the Spanish costas, which are mainly second homes or foreigner’s overseas summer homes. They estimate the average fall in this segment reaches 50%.

In their report they estimate the real estate market peaked out in 2007.  They forecast that Spain’s GDP will resume feeble growth in 2011 picking up pace on the following years.

I find unsurprising the fact that main residences have fallen less than their second home counterparts; that was reasonably in line with what everybody expected.

What I find surprising is the report claiming that property prices have fallen 50% on the Spanish coasts on average. As many would-be buyers who actually booked flights from the UK or elsewhere to fly over to Spain (when that was still possible!) on the hope of finding a dream villa for a 50% discount can attest that this simply is not the case. There has been a lot of hype going on property falling by 50% but frankly this contradicts any empirical observation.

There has been a significant market correction, no doubt, but not to the extent of a 50% fall on the costas. It’s true that some isolated off-plan developments perched atop hills which are a good 10 minute drive from civilization have fallen 50% or maybe even more, but these are few and do not constitute a general rule.

I would say, being coherent with the articles I write, that property prices will still keep on falling across the board over the next years, however steadily. I find the report’s conclusions a tad overoptimistic to be honest. For example, it remains to be seen how the huge property portfolio in the hands of struggling Spanish savings banks (http://ftalphaville NULL.ft NULL.com/blog/2010/04/14/202681/the-slow-death-of-the-cajas/)will unfold in the near future affecting price fixation when –and if– they are released openly into the market.

This could seriously add pressure driving down prices further adding to the oversupply. Lenders are going to great lengths not to release en masse their ever-growing property portfolios as a result of repossessions (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.com/articles/showArticle/home-repossessions-in-spain-defaulting-on-mortgage) or “daciones en pago de deuda (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.com/articles/showArticle/spanish-mortgage-dacion-en-pago-handing-keys-bank)“. Fortunately the Government is always there to help them (if not bail them out) amending accounting rules where necessary so balance sheets aren’t hurt.

It’s reassuring that those in need are helped out when needed.

Nevertheless I’d say there are already available interesting bargains (since 2009 actually) mainly from the classic three D’s (divorce, disease, death) and non-performing mortgage loans. But we have not yet reached that stage of capitulation in the property market which this report seemingly implies. I’m sure we will get there at some point or other.

In any case the spring season traditionally brings a surge of conveyance procedures and we are now witnessing a renewed interest in Spanish property over the last month. That is, providing volcanic activity keeps a low profile! Fingers crossed.

Source: Cotizalia (http://www NULL.cotizalia NULL.com/en-exclusiva/santander-pisos-inmobiliaria-caida-20100421 NULL.html)

Property