IT is pretty normal for the outcome of a bank mis-selling case to have gone largely unnoticed by the legal community – there are thousands of them after all.
It is also not uncommon that keen litigation lawyers win cases where complex financial products were flogged, with little regard for their clients’ objectives and desires.
That said, what are the odds of an active Spanish public notary – supposedly an expert in these matters – falling victim to a predatory bank? And more, what are these odds of this public notary going to Court, pleading ignorance about the legal documents he signed, in his own office, and win? Very low.
Almost as low as the probability of a tossed coin falling on its side and yet, that’s what happened!
It is no secret that I dislike the very existence of these professionals – or at least dislike what their legal roles consist of.
In my opinion, they are no longer required in a technology-aided legal system that should get rid of these costly elements, reminiscent of a country with a largely (I hope no longer!) illiterate rural-based population.
But in all fairness, bankers are far worse professionally – and their guilt is beyond all reasonable doubt – so it seems clear to me that this notary was ripped off by his now ex-banker and ex-friend.
The Court found, when ruling partially against Santander bank, the following:
– There is an extended – and corroborated – perception that banks abused the use of ‘asymmetrical information’ – which is neither fair to, nor transparent with, their clients.
– There was no evidence that the notary had prior experience in this sort of product (a ‘swap’ contract).
– There was no evidence that the branch manager and his aide fully explained the complexity of the financial products. On the contrary, it was established that the product was sold as an insurance policy to protect against currency fluctuations.
– The bank was a client of the notary and trust was implicit in the relationship. Also, the contracts were explained, and signed off, in no more than 30 minutes.
Even if this skilled professional got away with it, the odds still stack up against experienced banks’ clients that could – and should – have known better what they were agreeing to.