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Do I Have a Claim in the Spanish Courts?

Inside Timeshare receives many emails asking the question  “is my contract illegal and do I have a claim?” Usually, this has come about because they have been cold called by one of the many claims companies and so-called law firms which have proliferated over the past couple of years. Many have been told that they do have a claim when in fact they don’t, they either purchased before the change in the timeshare laws or they do have a legal contract. Today Inside Timeshare explains simply what constitutes a claim and what does not.

We start with when the timeshare laws came into force, the law was passed in December 1998 and came into effect on 5 January 1999. Before this date the contract duration was not an issue, perpetuity contracts were legal, after this date contracts for timeshare had to be of a duration of between 3 years minimum and 50 years maximum.

Many timeshare operators thought they could get around this using a “Deed of Adaptation” which they had to file with the Land Registry. Filing this deed of adaptation ensured that any sales made prior to 5 January 1999 were not impacted by the new laws. It only applies to sales made after that date. What the operators believed was that as the resorts were in existence before that date then they could carry on as before. They believed it only applied to new resorts or rather that is what their lawyers probably told them. Anfi tried to use this argument before the Supreme Court ruled that any contract signed after this date was subject to the law.

Another factor to be considered is the taking of deposits within the 14 days cooling-off period, which was forbidden by the new law 42/98, this also included the taking of any payment by a third party such as a trust. Some sales decks tried to get around this yet again by not showing a deposit on the paperwork but issuing an invoice for “accommodation”, usually when the purchaser was persuaded to move straight into the resort to secure the sale. The courts regard this as a payment to a third party.

In the beginning, timeshares were sold as fixed weeks and fixed apartments, you were guaranteed your week in the apartment assigned to your purchase. The resort could not “rent” it out, (unless banked) it was yours. They could also only sell 51 weeks in each apartment and each sale had to be registered with the land registry. The law recognised that these fixed weeks were a tangible and contained substance, you actually owned something.

We then saw the emergence of the points and floating weeks systems where you did not purchase a specific week in a specific apartment but became a member of a club. You owned nothing but membership with a right to use subject to availability. This is rather like joining a gym or a golf club, you pay your annual fees but you are not guaranteed the time when you want to use the facilities, it is subject to availability.

The Supreme Court ruled that the timeshare law 42/98 covered this system as it lacks anything tangible or anything of any substance, it was just a promise. They, therefore, ruled that these contracts infringed the law and the contracts are illegal. (This has also included Fractional and Company Participations)

With the points and floating week systems, the problem is a simple one, there are more members than weeks available, hence the most common complaint of all “nothing available for the dates you want”.

So to recap the basic criteria for a claim is:

  • The purchase must have been made in Spain after 5 January 1999;
  • The contract is over the permitted 50-year duration, i.e no end date is known as perpetuity;
  • Contains floating weeks or points systems which also includes fractional and “investments” (this includes the participation scheme);
  • Any payments made within the 14 days cooling-off period, this is extended to 90 if other infractions such as any of the above are present.

So if your contract does not contain any of the above then the chances are you will not have a claim.

It is also a fact that the contract must still be active and that all maintenance fees are paid to date. If the contract is cancelled then no claim can be made through the courts, they will not accept the case, this is a ploy that is being used by many of the dubious companies that have emerged. It is also a fact that any arrears in maintenance fees will have a very negative effect on any claim, the timeshare company will appeal to the court that there is no case as the owner/member is now in breach of contract.

It is also important to know that until the case is actually and formally accepted by the court then maintenance fees should be kept up to date. Again Inside Timeshare has received many emails where clients have been told to stop paying as soon as they sign up for a claim, this has then resulted in the timeshare company winning the case on the ground of breach of contract by the member.

What would be the claim?

  • Double the deposits paid within the 14 days cooling-off period, the balance only if paid after, this is the minimum claim amount. If paid within the cooling-off period then double that as well. (All double if 90 days invoked), this is the maximum claim amount.
  • Added to the claim will also be the return of legal fees (this is at the judge’s discretion), but also legal interest is paid from the time the case is presented to the court.
  • Maintenance fees may be added to the claim, but again it is the judge’s discretion if the judge awards there return.
  • Declare the contracts null and void.

So that is a simplified version of the law and what you would be claiming, each case is done on an individual basis and has to be presented to the court as such. There are no “class or group actions”.

It should also be pointed out that this only applies to timeshare purchased in Spain or its territories, other countries have their own laws and at present, we do not know of any cases in other timeshare hotspots such as Portugal or Greece. We do know however that there is a case being brought by Canarian Legal Alliance against a timeshare operator in Malta using a local law firm. More news on this as we get it.

If you think you have a contract which infringes the law and may be illegal, then please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you. Know your real position and options before you sign with any firm that calls and makes the offer of a claim, doing your homework will save you money in the end. 

Start the Week

December is now upon us and the courts will be having a last flurry of cases before the Christmas break. It is also the time of year when maintenance bills are being received and with this, there will be an increase in calls offering termination of your contracts. It is also the time when those who paid for these services will find that their timeshare has not been terminated and they are still liable for the maintenance fees. Inside Timeshare has been receiving many more enquiries regarding this and one of the main complaints is about ABC Legal.

As we published last week the story of two of our readers who are now being chased by a debt collection agency hired by ABC Legal and Mark Rowe, CCI Credit Management Ltd. We have since heard from another reader who is also being chased by them for payment of the fees to terminate their timeshare.

The timeshares have not been terminated by the timeshare company despite the protestations of ABC Legal that they have been. Our reader has demanded written official proof from ABC Legal to show that they did engage with the timeshare company and terminate the contract legally and formerly. Nothing has been forthcoming.

In each case, the letters demanding the clients pay ABC Legal Ltd, Abc Lawyers Ltd (both of these are in liquidation) or Advanced Business Consultants SL for the termination services has the following paragraph:

b) receipt by you of a letter from us stating that we consider that, in all of the circumstances, including the legal context and any legal notices served, that the Resort Owner is likely to treat the Timeshare Contract in effect as if it had been terminated (though in fact it has not been formally terminated) and that in our opinion the Resort Owner is unlikely to take any legal action against you. 

This paragraph is very contradictory, on the one hand they say the client will receive a letter from ABC that they consider the contract terminated, then they actually state in brackets that “though in fact it has not been formally terminated”. So the question is if it is not formally terminated how can it be terminated?

Surely the timeshare company would write to the member on official company letters that the timeshare is terminated and that the member should return all membership certificates?

The next telling part to show that ABC (Mark Rowe) does not, in fact, terminate contracts but rather tells the client to just stop paying the maintenance, that the timeshare company is “Unlikely in their opinion (ABC) to take legal action for any arrears”.

Well, we do know for the most part that this is untrue, many timeshare companies will chase for arrears in maintenance, most will not deal with companies such as these for termination. They will, however, deal direct with the member.

To us, at Inside Timeshare, this is blatant bullying by a company and owner who is well known for fleecing unsuspecting timeshare owners of their hard-earned cash. If you have dealt with any company such as this then please contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

News also came in late on Friday that a German client of Canarian Legal Alliance has now received a payout from Anfi into their account. They have now received 27,753.96€ plus legal fees and legal interest, their contract was also declared null and void, so another happy ex-Anfi owner.

Did you purchase your timeshare after 5 January 1999, did you pay any deposit within the 14 days cooling-off period, is the contract for a duration in excess of 50 years, does it contain floating weeks or points or is a fractional or company participation scheme?

If you can say yes to one or more of these, then you may have an illegal contract and have the right to make a claim, then please use our contact page for more information on this or any other timeshare matter.

What a Cheek: ABC Legal Sends in Debt Collectors to Clients

Well, we thought we had seen everything until now, it appears that the “scammers” are now sending in the debt collectors to clients who wanted to cancel and refuse to pay or have not paid because they do not believe their timeshare contracts have been terminated. ABC Legal is the company involved and yes, it is the “crook” Mark Rowe who is once again behind it. Also, remember that Mark Rowe and several of his other companies are under criminal investigation in the UK and Spain.

Over the past few weeks Inside Timeshare has been receiving many emails on this subject. The first few were all clients who decided they wanted to cancel the services to terminate their timeshare because they felt pressured into signing and subsequently found some very disturbing news on the internet. Yet now they are being bullied into paying with threats of legal action and County Court Judgements.

Mark Rowe

The latest involves two clients who had taken on the services of ABC Legal or one of the other Mark Rowe companies, Advanced Business Consultants Legal SL and ABC Lawyers Ltd.

Both were sent letters on ABC Legalheaded paper telling them that their timeshare contracts had been terminated, both asked for proof as they had not heard anything from their respective resorts. Plus they are receiving demands for past maintenance fees and for next year.

ABC Legal refused to send any written evidence that the contracts had been formerly terminated. All they have done is refer the clients to this clause in their contract:

To clarify, by “Exit” we mean one of two things:

a) an agreement with the Resort Owner under which your Timeshare Contract is terminated on terms you approve in advance; OR 

b) receipt by you of a letter from us stating that we consider that, in all of the circumstances, including the legal context and any legal notices served, that the Resort Owner is likely to treat the Timeshare Contract in effect as if it had been terminated (though in fact it has not been formally terminated) and that in our opinion the Resort Owner is unlikely to take any legal action against you. 

Both (Name of Resort) and (Name of Resort) have failed to engage or respond to the legal notices served.

Now there is a very telling point in the second clause:

(though in fact, it has not been formally terminated) and that in our opinion the Resort Owner is unlikely to take any legal action against you.

They actually admit that the contract has not been “formerlly terminated”, that the resorts failed to engage or respond to legal notices served.

The question is what “Legal Notices”?

As we have pointed out on many occasions, most timeshare companies will not engage with or recognise these third party terminations, they will deal directly with the member only. It is also a fact that timeshare companies will pursue owners/members for arrears in maintenance fees. Many of these companies will use the services of Daniels Silverman based in Liverpool, this is the prefered choice of Diamond.

The debt collection agency employed by ABC Legal is CCI Credit Management Ltd, The CCICM Centre Snowdonia Business Park Portmadog.

It is also a fact that ABC Legal and ABC lawyers are in liquidation, with ABC Legal filling on 8 February 2019 and ABC Lawyers also on 8 February 2019.

So another question has to be asked, how can companies in liquidation employ a debt collection agency to recover unpaid invoices for them?

If anyone out there knows a good answer I would love to hear it.

So there we have it, the “Scammers” are still at it but trying to use legal means. One thing we can say to Mark Rowe, you certainly know how to rip people off.

We all hope that you end up getting your just deserts and are thrown into prison for a substantial time just for all the misery that you have heaped on the unsuspecting.

If you have been contacted by CCI Credit Management Ltd or have had dealings with any of these companies and are still receiving your maintenance bills, then please use our contact page and get in touch.