SPANISH lawyers assisting investors in the purchase of property have been regularly charging the fairly standardised fee of 1% plus Vat.
For many, this is an unnecessary expense that can easily be avoided. Instead they opt for the help of a family friend, a local ‘gestor’ or even the real estate agency. Their arguments are varied: lawyers charge too much for what they do, they are bad in communicating with clients and if something goes wrong, they don’t want to know.
To a certain extent, I can sympathise with detractors of legal professionals who represent property buyers; they believe that because we have Notary Publics and a Land Registry system, investors should be protected and minor legal guidance should suffice. In an ideal world this sounds fine, but not in the real one.
I naturally advocate using lawyers to buy property, and so does the claimant in the civil liability case that was brought against a firm of lawyers based in Marbella and their insurers. For this client, the fee of 1% plus Vat has possibly turned out to be the best investment he ever made. For he has recovered, from the Law Society insurers (Caser Seguros), €107,000 for two failed off-plan apartments, paid 15 years ago – plus interest since then.
The mistake made by these property conveyance lawyers was not small: when they demanded bank certificates guaranteeing the investments, mandatory under Spanish law, the property developer managed to get away with flogging them fake insurance policies issued a shelf company, Compagnies del Guaranties, run by an Italian fraudster.
There was actually no need to run through the lengthy bogus document which had, I must admit, an air of ‘officialness’. Just by searching the words ‘Compagnies Des Guaranties’ one would have seen them prominently featuring on a blacklist compiled by the Dirección General de Seguros.
Granted, you don’t need to pay a lawyer to do this simple job. But honestly, how many investors would have noticed these were spurious policies? Very few, as it happened, when you consider the nationwide scale of the con. At least, in a quirk of fate, those who hire a negligent lawyer will get paid!