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Start the Week: Huge Payouts Announced

Welcome to another week with Inside Timeshare, we start today with a roundup of news from the end of last week in the courts. It certainly proved rather costly for these timeshare resorts but made their ex-members very happy indeed. As usual, all the contracts have been declared null and void due to serious infringements of Spain’s timeshare laws with the return of all the client’s purchase price.

In the first case which was actually heard and the sentence passed some time ago, Puerto Calma Resort in Gran Canaria has now paid out the client over 41,000€. This money has now been paid to the client via bank transfer. They are now timeshare free as the contract was declared null and void.

Friday was a very bad day for the major timeshare resort in Gran Canaria, in just one day seven sentences were passed by the courts against Anfi. As we know many of the Anfi contracts are illegal as they either contain floating weeks or points systems or the contracts are perpetuity which as the law states should have a duration of not more than 50 years. As in most of these sales, deposits were also taken within the statutory cooling-off period which is also forbidden by law.

The total amount awarded by the courts in these seven cases amount to a massive 213,187.29€, this is certainly a huge hit to the Anfi coffers in one day, the client’s contracts were also declared null and void leaving them timeshare free.

These cases were brought on behalf of these clients by Canarian Legal Alliance, this is further proof that this is one law firm that does actually deliver what they say. So it is congratulations to the clients and also to the whole legal team at CLA.

Lawyers of CLA

The criteria for a valid and viable claim against your timeshare resort is as follows:

The purchase or upgrade must have been made in Spain or any of her territories after 5 January 1999;

The contract duration is more than 50 years or has no end date, what is commonly known as a perpetuity;

It contains points or floating week systems, this may also include fractional and investment packs such as those sold by Silverpoint. This also includes the Company Participation Scheme which replaced the old investment weeks;

Any payment is taken within the 14 days cooling-off period even by a third party. This may also be extended to 90 days where other serious infringements of law have taken place.

There are other laws which may also be used in these cases which include Consumer Law and also Mercantile Law, these tend to be included once the lawyers begin to prepare a case for court.

Moving on to the article published on Friday with regards to the application by Silverpoint to the Mercantile Court to begin proceedings to liquidate the company, Inside Timeshare has received several enquiries on this subject.

The main concern so far has been the same, why have Silverpoint not informed members of this fact?

That is one question that we are unable to answer, we suspect their motive is to just keep it quiet giving as little information to members as possible. We also know that this “liquidation” is an attempt to avoid any further litigation in the courts against them which they are losing on an almost daily basis. It must also be mentioned that the State Prosecutors Office is also conducting an investigation into the reasons behind the liquidation.

Have you had enough of your timeshare and the ever-increasing maintenance fees?

Are you fed up with not being able to get the reservations due to no availability?

Have you found that non-members are able to book into your resorts without the huge “investment” you made and in many cases for less than your annual fees?

If you can answer yes to these questions and your contract falls into the criteria above, then please use our contact page and ask for further details. We will get back to each person with a personal reply as to your own circumstances.

Marriott Contracts Circumvent Spanish Laws

Welcome to the end of another week, today Inside Timeshare reports on how clients purchasing Marriott timeshares in Europe have been duped and how Marriott has circumvented the strict Spanish laws on the sale of timeshare. This has recently come to light as many clients have contacted Inside Timeshare to see if they have a case in the Spanish Courts.

As we know any timeshare purchased in Spain or any of her territories are subject to the laws of Spain, a very disturbing fact has now emerged. It involves the sales of timeshare at the Son Antem Resort in Mallorca.

From the many reader’s enquiries, we focus on just one, it begins in summer of 2007 when our reader was on holiday in Mallorca and was “invited” to attend a presentation on the Marriott Vacation Club at Son Antem. He attended the presentation and was duly impressed with the standard of the resort and the “benefits” of owning a timeshare membership with Marriott.

Our reader eventually agreed to purchase a membership to MVC believing that his home resort was going to be Son Antem. This belief was reinforced by the salesperson conducting the presentation and eventually by the manager when they decided to purchase.

Son Antem Resort Mallorca

When they first began their membership everything appeared to be going well, they didn’t have any problems with booking their holidays and do admit they were very impressed with the standards. But over the years things began to go wrong, maintenance fees began to rise and they now found they were having a great deal of difficulty in making any reservations for the times and resort they wanted. The excuse, as usual, was “no availability”.

Our reader had heard about other owners taking their timeshare companies to court and having their contracts declared null & void with the return of all their money. Making his enquiries he found that his membership was contrary to the laws of Spain and it looked as though he had a valid claim. His membership is a points-based system with a contract that runs in perpetuity. This contravenes Law 42/98 which makes points and floating weeks systems illegal and also limits the duration of a contract to a maximum of 50 years.

This particular reader was directed to Inside Timeshare and duly contacted us to see if he had a valid and viable claim. Unfortunately for him, the news was not good.

Emailing copies of his contract and maintenance bills Inside Timeshare found that his contract was not covered by Spanish law. All the paperwork was processed at Marriott in the USA and shows no Spanish entity. All the documents were stamped by a US notary and the deposit and payments were made through the US in dollars.

His annual maintenance bill was sent from the US and paid directly to Marriott in the US. Now we do know that many timeshares in Spain were sold with the timeshare companies using UK or BVI Limited entities. But the courts have ruled that as the timeshare was purchased in Spain and are based in Spain then Spanish law has jurisdiction and this was just an attempt to get around the law.

But this was not all, our reader actually believed (as he was told this by the sales department) that his home resort was Son Antem in Mallorca, but as Inside Timeshare pointed out all his paperwork shows that his purchase was with Marriott Vacation Club International with his home resort listed as The Manor at Ford’s Colony in Virginia.

The Manor at Ford’s Colony

Needless to say, he was very taken aback at this news, it also appears to explain why he was having difficulty in making his reservations at Son Antem.

This now leaves this particular client without a legal leg to stand on, his only option now is to relinquish and lose over $18,000 for a timeshare that has become a burden and is virtually unusable.

We do know that when on a presentation and then deciding to purchase, clients have very little time to fully read and comprehend the paperwork and contracts. It is also a fact that very few will ever read them in full even after returning home from their vacation, as with this particular reader it is not until problems arise and they seek advice that they found out they do not own what they thought. Had he known that his timeshare home resort was in the US and not at Son Antem, Mallorca, he would not have purchased it.

This story does show the need to go through documents thoroughly and to do so within the 14 days cooling-off period. If you find during this time that you have purchased something that you were not aware of then at least you will have the legal right to cancel.

Once again we see the timeshare industry finding ways to flout the laws of the countries that they are operating in, leaving purchasers with no legal rights and recourse.

If you own any timeshare interest with Marriott it is important that you check your documents thoroughly, if you are not sure what to look for then please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will help you check.

That is all for this week, we wish you all a very good weekend and please join us again next week for more on the murky world of timeshare.

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.