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The Spanish Lawyer Online

Spanish Law Tribune

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Archive for October, 2008

Marbella’s New Master Urban Plan to be Approved Provisionally

October 28th, 2008

More than 48,000 owners will now be able to sleep well at night after majoress Ángeles Muñoz promised to include a new article in the new Master Urban Plan by which purchasers of good faith will be exempt of compensating for the regularisation of their illegal properties. In some cases some neighbours were liable for up to 12,000€.

Following up on our article (http://www NULL.lawbird 2nd of October 2007 Marbella’s Town Hall will be provisionally approving the new Master Urban Plan (P.G.O.U.).  Marbella’s majoress has declared in a press release that it is a triumph of all to make developers compensate the Town Hall for the irregularities. As per our prior article, the risk there was before was that if a developer was unwilling to pay this compensation it would be up to the new owner, the innocent third party of good faith, who would have the onus of compensating the Town Hall to regularise thier newly purchased home. This will no longer be the case after the inclusion of said article which forces developers to compensate in all cases. The developers will be given a year’s deadline to comply voluntarily after which the Town Hall’s legal representatives will be able to execute the compensations due at developer’s expense. 

The new amended Master Urban Plan includes 6,000 of the 8,500 public appeals that were brought forth. That is 70% of them were accepted including appeals made by more than 350 Community of Owners.

The areas which will now become regularised at the developer’s expense will be: 1,008 dwellings in San Pedro de Alcántara; 3,351 dwellings in Nueva Andalucía; 1,708 in Nagüeles; 1,999 in Marbella; 533 in Río Real and 406 in La Víbora. This regularisation process will involve the developers both granting plots of land of their own as well as purchasing them only to hand them over to the Town Hall so as to restore Marbella’s public areas devised for general use such as future schools or green zones.

The goal of Marbella’s New Master Urban Plan is to create a reliable legal framework that restores confidence back into the real estate market. This will benefit both prospective purchasers and developers.

Notwithstanding there are still 500 inhabited dwellings on which a general consensus must still be attained. Concretely the majoress referred to Banana Beach, Río Real and La Víbora. The remaining 1,500 uninhabited illegal dwellings could find a public use in the future such as Elder Foster Care.

The new amended P.G.O.U. still needs to go again under a second period of public scrutiny should anyone be interested in making additional appeals. Once the Junta de Andalucía gives its final approval the Master Urban Plan will be definitely approved. It is foreseen Marbella will have its new Master Urban Plan approved for spring of 2009.

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9 Tips on How to Determine if an Offer is a Scam

October 17th, 2008

We are receiving a dozen queries every day asking about the legitimacy of certain offer, generally received by email or over the phone after a cold call. Unfortunately, we cannot analyze case by case, and therefore will provide a set of useful hints which will help you evaluate the legitimacy of the company or individual yourself.

The list below is provided in no particular order:

  1. Is the domain name old enough? By means of a Whois (http://www NULL.whois search you can find out when the domain name was registered. If it’s only a few weeks old, be suspicious.
  2. Are they using mobiles? – If the phones used as contact numbers are mobile numbers instead of land lines, it’s definitely not a good sign. In Spain, mobile numbers start by +34 6..
  3. Have you been contacted out of the blue? – If you where cold called, or received an email from someone you don’t know, ask yourself why these people have your contact details.
  4. Are you being requested to pay money upfront? This is the single most worrying point if it comes in conjunction of with one or more of the above.
  5. Is the offer too good to be true? If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  6. Is the company properly registered? – Although it’s something positive if they can provide you with company registration details, you shouldn’t give this point too much importance. Fraudsters have been registering companies for decades with the sole purpose of deceiving (e.g. dozens of companies where incorporated by fraudsters to conduct the infamous Timeshare Resale Scam (http://www NULL.lawbird
  7. Is the address for their offices correct? – Not sure why, fraudsters tend to provide you with fake addresses which don’t really exist. Check any of the online street directories and find out if the address provided is correct.
  8. Something strange about their names? Funny names such as “Woley Fernandez” or “Barrister Perez Santos ESQ” are names made up by Nigerians conducting 419 advance fee scams (http://www (the terms “Barrister” or “ESQ” don’t exist in Spanish law). Also, fraudsters tend to cite fake organisms such as “The Ministry of Finance” or “The Security Company”.
  9. What others are saying – Use search engines to find information about the company. Try putting the company in inverted comas, and add terms like “scam” or “fraud”. The company or individual you mention might have already been reported online as fraudsters by other people.

Needless to say, the above list shouldn’t be taken as definitive, nor the absolute legitimacy o illegitimacy of a company established based on one or more of the above points. You can use it, however, to personally evaluate the risk of the transaction.

My recommendation is that you never pay any moneys upfront if you have been contacted out of the blue. However, if you have to, before doing so always suggest the use of an escrow company (chosen by you) to hold the funds until the product or service has been delivered. If they refuse, I recommend that you back off.

Always remember; have a lawyer analyze the transaction before making any up-front payments.

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Spain Approves Bank Deposit Guarantees Up to €100,000

October 7th, 2008

Today it has been confirmed that Spain will guarantee all bank deposits up to €100,000. Until today the minimum amount guaranteed by law throughout Europe was €20,000 in case a bank filed for bankruptcy.

In practice, UE members have the freedom to raise the yardstick as they see fit. Such has been the case of the United Kingdom which has raised this week the minimum amount protected from 33,000 to 50,000 GBP in retaliation to Ireland’s unilateral decision of protecting the full amount of their depositors funds. This has created liquidity problems to UK banks which have witnessed massive withdrawals of funds seeking the save haven of Irish banks. Following Ireland’s decision last week, Germany also guaranteed the full amount of private individual’s bank deposits on Monday the 6th October. Many other European countries have followed Germany’s example this week.

In view of the unilateral increases of Ireland and the United Kingdom, the European Union’s Finance Ministers (Ecofin) gathered and decided today to raise the minimum amount protected from €20,000 up to €50,000. All European countries will now be forced to guarantee at least the said amount having the liberty to raise it. Spain only protected €20,000 until early this morning.

Spain’s president, Mr Zapatero, held an urgent meeting yesterday in Madrid with Spain’s six most prominent banks and savings banks promising to raise the minimum protected amount above the UE’s new threshold of €50,000 without specifying any concrete amount.

We welcome these measures, as they should help reduce the sense of panic and bring back confidence in the banking system.

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