What is the official language of an Annual General Meeting in Spain?

Are you legally required to speak Spanish?

LAST UPDATED: 3 Aug, 2016 @ 16:10
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Antonio Flores
Antonio Flores

THIS  matter was raised in Court on at least four occasions and interesting rulings have resolved the matter, albeit in different directions.

 


In La Manga, Murcia, a 150-strong Community of Owners had their AGM conducted and approved in English, with the benefit of a translator for the only two Spanish owners.

 


Not happy with the extensive use of Shakespeare’s language, the two Spaniards challenged the AGM in Court, stating that Spanish was the official language of the country and hence, it should have prevailed.

 

The Court of First Instance dismissed the claim on the basis that a) the governing law on communities of owners had no particular norm on the matter and b) the Spanish owners had had the benefit of a translator.

 


Surprisingly, the Appeal Court revoked the ruling.

 

It stated that the Horizontal Property Act came under article 3.1 of the Constitution and, citing national sovereignty, concluded that the language should be prima facie Spanish, and thereafter as many translators as required by the different nationalities present at the meeting, at the Community’s expense.

 


Not content with the outcome, the dispute was escalated to the Supreme Court who overturned the ruling on the grounds that it had wrongly understood the application of article 3.1 of the Constitution, which does not apply to juridical agreements conducted privately.

 

 

The Supreme Court stated that ‘national sovereignty’ has nothing to do with AGMs. Furthermore, it held that as the Horizontal Property Act does not specify the language of meetings, these can be conducted in any idiom so long as translators are available.

 

Clearly, the Supreme Court recognized the multicultural nature of many AGMs along the Spanish Costas and rejected being influenced by notions of antiquated patriotism.

 


Down south, Malaga Appeal Court ruled that using English language in an AGMs had not infringed any rights, as the minutes were also in Spanish and at all times, a translator had been fully available.  





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Lawyer Antonio Flores is the legal columnist for the Olive Press. Antonio has been practising law since 1997, year in which he began working for a large law firm in Marbella as a Property Lawyer. In 1998 he left the company he had joined a few months earlier, and used his knowledge and the experience gained to build his own practice. He is known throughout the community as independent, reputable and trustworthy. Through a combination of strong work ethics, determination and international exposure, his competence of Spanish Law is unparalleled and demonstrated through his fluency in English and Spanish.

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