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The Spanish Lawyer Online
The Spanish Lawyer Online

Antonio Flores’ Blog

Thoughts about laws and regulations which affect foreigners in Spain


Archive for September, 2008

Aircraft Accident Puts Law Firms in the Spotlight

September 20th, 2008

The tragic Barajas accident has brought about a singular controversy, never heard before in this part of Europe (or at least Spain). Spanish newspapers started it all off and the Spanish Law Society has now taken an interest in the matter. I am referring to the so called “ambulance chasers“, a funny and graphic term given to lawyers who hurry to disaster sites to solicit business from the injured or the relatives of those who have died.

The Spanish Law Society is now studying whether to take disciplinary actions against Spanish law firms who have hooked up with their American counterparts in a quest to attract as much of the personal injury legal compensation business as possible, almost right at the scene of the accident. Also, the Dean of the Las Palmas Law Society has affirmed that that some Spanish law firms are in clear breach of the Law Society Rules and Statutes in respect of legal business solicitation (articles 7. and 8.) and has equally recommended exemplary disciplinary action.

Aggressive solicitation of legal work  is not uncommon in Spain and temptations arise when those targeted are foreigners caught up in nightmarish legal wrangles, for example when buying property. I suppose it is not always possible to differentiate what is ethical from unscrupulous but the above case seems a clear example of someone wanting to profit from someone else’s misfortune. Too bad for those Spanish firms!

Uncategorized , ,

Spanish Notaries to Keep an Eye on Who Signs What!

September 18th, 2008

Spanish ´Notarios´ are being urged to report any suspicious transactions happening at their offices to the Money Laundering Prevention Squad. To that end they have been provided with a list of suspicious ´indicators´ that money laundering may be taking place in specific transactions.

As an example, Notaries are now looking into purchase sale deeds including

  • Very young or old buyers, as well as incapacitated persons,
  • Buyers not having any known activity or borrowing money from private sources,
  • Borrowers cancelling their loans shortly after buying,
  • Giving powers of attorney to persons different from lawyers,
  • Very low price on the deeds compared to the price of the properties
  • Using cash in large proportions (obvious!) and several transactions on the same property within a short period of time.

And in the wake of the recent indicment of 2 Notaries in Marbella for allegedly aiding money launderers it is clear that they will not overlook these risk indicators but will report any unusual transaction, which of course will mean nothing if nothing wrong has been done.

Property , , , ,

Non-Resident Certificate, or the Never Ending Spanish Bureaucracy

September 16th, 2008

Some of you may have been advised by your bank that you need to provide them with a non-resident certificate or have the account frozen. The measure is still confusing as different lenders are applying existing legislation (a mixture of 1991, 1997 and 2007 sets of regulations) differently and whilst some are requesting the certificate electronically, from the appropriate government offices (at a charge of around 15 to 20 Euros), every year, others have requested that the bank account holder provides a hard copy obtained at the Police Station within 15 days from being notified failing which their bank account will be frozen. In these cases the certificate is valid for 2 years after which date the bank will request it electronically.

It does seem however that with the inevitable tightening of money laundering controls all banks and savings banks will eventually request it and therefore it may be wise to apply for a hard copy and send it to the bank.

Taxes , , , , ,

The tragic Gary Dunne case to be tried in the Malaga Courts with full BBC coverage

September 13th, 2008

Yesterday I was filmed by the Inside Out crew (BBC Northwest) in our offices in connection to the difficulties encountered by the family of Gary Dunne in the repatriation of his body back to the UK. Gary was stabbed to death by a machete-wielding gang in a resort near Torremolinos on the Costa Del Sol in March 2006 and his family have been fighting ever since to have his body repatriated to Liverpool, his home town.

Unfortunately Spanish law is strict with the repatriation of human remains as it will only allow a body to be transported outside the country if it has been previously embalmed (within 48 hours from death) or cremated, or 5 years have passed since the death in any event (in which case it is considered not to pose a sanitary hazard).

The trial is to take place this coming week and full cover is being given by the BBC Northwest in the above programme Inside Out. You obtain more information on the Dunne family ordeal by going to their blog, and can also contribute with a donation at any HSBC bank to the GARY DUNNE FUND.

We would like to offer our full support to the family and demand that justice is rightly served.

The programme is to be aired on the 24th of September on the BBC Northwest channel.


Property Wealth Tax, at last Suppressed

September 10th, 2008

This is one of the measures implemented by the Spanish government to improve the economic situation. It also affects non-residents, to whom a special mention is made, and it will be immediately applicable (1st January 2008). This means that if you have purchased your property this year you will only have to pay Property Income Tax (PIT) next year, and if you purchased prior to 2008 this will be the last year in which you have to pay both taxes, paying only PIT next year.

On a 250,000 € property owned by two persons with a 100,000 € mortgage the measure will save them 300 € approximately, and on a 500,000 € property with no mortgage owned by one person the saving is of 2,000 €. I tend to subscribe to the notion that ‘every little bit counts’ and so we can only welcome the measure. Properties owned by Spanish or foreign companies are unaffected by the measure.

As December is quickly approaching, we recommend that you get in touch with your Spanish solicitors as soon as possible in order for them to start arranging the payment.

If you don’t have a solicitor and would like to be assigned one who can offer you this service, please visit the Fiscal Representation page on this site.

Property, Taxes , , , , , ,

New driving laws are better for…foreigners

September 10th, 2008

It may sound strange but it is true. Among the new changes Spanish driving laws have implemented is the point system, which would only apply to Spanish driving license holders. So whilst the latter driver can lose his license if he is caught twice doing 151 km/h in a motorway, for example (he/she would lose 6 points every time, plus a fine), a foreign license driver will not be affected and even if the infringement consists in driving over 110 km/h in urban roads, 180 km/h in normal roads or 200 km/h in motorways, for example, where the law envisages the suspension of the drivers license for up to 4 years, drivers with foreign license still remain unaffected, since the traffic authorities are not connected with other countries (which may not even have the point system).

However, beware of committing certain offenses: prisons terms are applicable regardless of the nationality or license of the driver for exceeding the above speed limits as well as drink-driving (where it is not possible to refuse to be ´breathalised´).