Browse Tag

Ley 42/98

Marriott Admit Losing in Spanish Courts

On 7 July, Market Exclusive published an article reporting on the financial statements issued by Marriott. (See link at the end). After the preamble they began by announcing they had identified Fraudulently Induced Electronic Payment Disbursements”, which resulted in $9.9 million resulting from unauthorized third-party access to their email system. They duly notified law enforcement and relevant financial institutions, commencing an investigation.

They have managed to recover $3,2 million, but are hopeful they will recover the rest. Now this is just a start in their report.

They have also acknowledged they are recording pre-tax litigation expenses of $16.3 million, these are to settle in principle, two actions in their North American business with the Petrick action and an owners action brought by those with fractional interests at the The Ritz-Carlton Club, Lake Tahoe. It will also include actions by owners of Marriott timeshare interests in Spain.

The litigation on their Spanish business is a result of the laws Spain has brought in to protect consumers, this law known as Ley 42/98, was enacted in January 1999 and invalidated many timeshare contracts sold after that date.

Marriott, as many other timeshare operators believed, that by filing a deed of adaptation they would be able to continue as before, but they were sadly wrong. It took many years and court battles to get to the stage Spain is at now, the strongest timeshare laws in Europe.

Marriott Marbella

So what makes these contracts illegal?

Many timeshare operators continued to sell perpetuity contracts, when the law stipulates they should be of a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years. They also continued to sell the floating weeks and points systems, which gives the purchaser no actual rights apart from the right to use subject to availability. With the fractional ownership, the Supreme Court clearly regarded this as timeshare, as usage was dependent on a points system being allocated. Fractional was designed to “replace” timeshare with the promise of “purchasing shares and investing” in a real estate property, but again in Europe timeshare should never be sold as an investment.

We have seen over the past few years many other companies falling foul of this legislation, Anfi, Palm Oasis, Holiday Club / Puerto Calma and the Diamond run resort Cala Blanca in Gran Canaria, Silverpoint in Tenerife and a host of others all over Spain. Marriott is just the latest to be hit by timeshare owners becoming aware of the laws and finding they now have a way out of the never ending cycle of upgrades and maintenance payments.

Marriott, have also conceded that this litigation is going to cause them to incur considerable and “material and litigation” costs, along with the settlements and judgement costs. They have also admitted that it will have a severe effect on their results in the European sector and will have repercussions on their business and financial condition.

The one thing Marriott along with others in the industry are still saying, is they all disagree with these rulings, that the law as interpreted by the 126 rulings of the Supreme Court are wrong, they are seeking to introduce legislation “that will implement a more balanced approach”. More balance, or do they mean going back to when they believed they could not be touched and did exactly as they wanted.

Although they do go on to say the following “The timeshare laws, regulations and policies in Spain may continue to change or be subject to different interpretations in the future, including in ways that could negatively impact our business”. Negatively impact their business, well they only have themselves to blame, had they sold within the regulations, they wouldn’t have to worry about negative impact!

On this point of Marriott and others in the industry lobbying for a change in the law, this has now been set by the Supreme Court, the only way that the law can be changed now is for the Spanish parliament to pass new ones. This is very unlikely to happen, even if it were to happen, then we would end up with many years of court cases and appeals to the Supreme Court to clarify any new laws.

At present the law firm which is responsible for the clarification of the law with now 127 rulings from the Supreme Court, Canarian Legal Alliance, has many cases upcoming against Marriott. These cases are only now just starting to take place, CLA have at least 2 cases already presented at court with around 30 in the final stages of presenting to court. They are also looking into new clients cases, all these contracts are in perpetuity and use the point system, so this figure is surely set to rise.

On the point of the Supreme Court rulings, Canarian Legal Alliance began seeking clarification from the Supreme Court well over 7 years ago, they eventually received their first victory against Anfi in March 2015. This case involved the Norwegian client Mrs Tove Grimsbo, it was a long drawn out case, but the precedent had been set. Within weeks of this first ruling, many more followed, setting in stone the laws that for many years had been interpreted differently depending on the court and the judge presiding.

It will be interesting to see whether Marriott go the same way as Anfi, Silverpoint and others in constantly appealing against any rulings made against them, or will they just payout and cut their losses?

Only time will tell, we will certainly be keeping an eye on these cases.

Link to the original article:

https://marketexclusive.com/marriott-vacations-worldwide-corporation-nysevac-files-an-8-k-other-events-4/2018/07/amp/

Links to previous Inside Timeshare articles on Marriott:

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-parker-marriott-racketeering-lawsuit/

http://insidetimeshare.com/starting-the-week/

If you need any further information on this subject, whether it be a Marriott, Anfi, Silverpoint or any other timeshare, then use our contact page and we will get back to you and point you in the right direction.

Have you been contacted by a company that tells you that you have a claim, and want to know if it is genuine and they are a legitimate company? Then contact Inside Timeshare for the facts.

Martin Zabala Abogados, Appointed by the Court in Las Palmas!

Today’s article is a warning to readers about a new “Law Firm” contacting UK owners of Palm Oasis in Gran Canaria. One of our readers contacted us after being contacted and receiving a letter from Martin Zabala Abogados Asesoria, based in Madrid.

The address given is Calle Velazquez 15 -1, Escalera Derecha, 2008, Madrid, telephone number 0034 911 01 34 24, also using the same number for the Fax. They give two email addresses on the letter: [email protected] & [email protected]

We have found an entry for this company in company records, registered on 20 July 2016, with the CIF number B87615928.

One problem we have found is in the email addresses, the i[email protected] actually belongs to a genuine law firm based in Barcelona called Martinez-Zurita Abogados Asociados.

The address on company records is: VIA AUGUSTA, Nº 246, 5 08021,Barcelona, with the CIF: E64299092, they have a website:

http://mzabogados.com

The law firm was founded in 2000 and shows all the lawyers and partners on the Team section, having checked on the Centro General de Letrados, which is the official register of all lawyers in Spain, all the names are members of the Barcelona Bar Association, so this is a genuine law firm. They have also been informed of the use of their email address.

So what makes this outfit in Madrid so suspicious?

suspicious

Firstly the letter is signed by Jasmine Phillips, Lawyer at Martin Zabala Abogados, but no trace of her can be found in the official lawyers register.

Secondly it is the nature of the letter sent to Palm Oasis owners, the second paragraph reads:

“The court of Las Palmas has approved our office to aid all agreement holders residing in the United Kingdom. As Mediators, we are advising all members of the holiday resort of the ruling in their favor and to handle all outstanding claims of the injured parties.”

So they have been “approved” by the court in Las Palmas have they?

Well we know that the courts do not farm out these cases to outside companies or approve such companies to act on the courts behalf. We then have the fourth paragraph where they state that:

“Due to the material misrepresentation, aggressive selling methods, failure to revoke the right of withdrawal and in some cases, no right of revocation, all contracts concluded between 1994 and 2009 have been null and void.”

Not quite accurate, the laws which are being used by genuine law firms to claim and have contracts declared null and void, did not come into force until 5 January 1999 and are known as Ley 42/98.

Although they do say they will make no charge for their services as these are paid by the defendant, you the client are not exempt from court fees, these have to be paid directly to the court and not their company, also they will not exceed 12% of the settlement amount. All very strange indeed. What is the betting the amount will have to be sent by bank transfer to a fictitious court address?

Another fact from the letter is regarding the owners documents, they want them sent by fax or email clearly marked as copies, so they can ensure swift processing of applications.

Not the usual procedure to take a case to court, which requires original documents which then have to be translated into Spanish, a Power of Attorney needs to be signed, the case then has to be prepared on an individual basis by a lawyer (no class actions in Spain), the case is then filed by a Procurator at the court. We then have to wait for a pretrial judge to review the case and if eligible sending it for a full trial hearing. None of this is a quick process.

No doubt the main sting will come later in the process, which if like other cases we have highlighted will entail the owners receiving a letter to say their case has been won and many thousands of pounds have been awarded. Unfortunately, before the court will release this money a “TAX” will have to be paid, again probably by bank transfer to another company dealing with the “TAX” or the same fake court address. That will be the last you hear from them and yes your money has gone!

Inside Timeshare reminds all our readers and those coming across our pages looking for information, beware contacts from companies, law firms etc with these wonderful promises, check and check again. If you are unsure on how to do this contact Inside Timeshare and we will help, remember doing your homework before taking on the offers or paying any money will save you in the long run.

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The Never Ending Ownership: Another Nightmare on Timeshare Street.

Once again Tony Hetherington has highlighted the problem of timeshare ownership and the never ending membership. His article in MailOnline published 12 November (see link at the end for the full article), is the story of an elderly couple being hounded for £3,010 maintenance fees.

This couple are 80 years of age, they purchased their timeshare in 1993, this is now controlled by Cameron House Owners Club. Apparently they have been asking to sell since 2004, all maintenance fees had been paid upto 2012, when they returned their ownership certificates.

cameron logo

They have serious medical conditions and are unable to use the timeshare, they are also on limited pensions, so are unable to afford the ongoing costs. They are now being threatened with debt collectors if they do not pay.

Sounds a very familiar story, Inside Timeshare has been highlighting these types of cases for some time, especially those involving MacDonald Resorts, remember the case of Mrs B, which has still not been resolved even after nearly 2 years.

Mrs B and her sister are both in their 80’s not in good health and believed that their timeshare at Dona Lola Club in Spain had been transferred to a third party. Inside Timeshare has the notarised document that shows this to be the case. MacDonald’s refuse to accept this and are hounding them for around 3 years maintenance which they cannot afford to pay. Again the debt collectors have been sent in.

mcdonaldsresortlogo

In Spain these “perpetuity” contracts have been illegal since 4 January 1999, when Ley 42/98 was enacted. Under this law contracts must be for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years. Many contracts for timeshares that have been sold since then which exceed the 50 year maximum are being declared null & void, with all the purchase price being returned. This law has been enforced by 69 Supreme Court rulings which all Spanish courts must abide by.

Timeshares such as MacDonalds and Cameron House use the perpetuity clause to lock in owners for ever, it also becomes part of their estate which is then the responsibility of whoever inherits the timeshare to continue to pay the maintenance. It doesn’t end there, it then becomes part of their estate, as so on it goes.

So as Tony Hetherington puts it “Even death does not bring an end to the bills. It could claim against your estate, blocking bequests to family, friends or charities, while it pockets annual fees for a timeshare that will stand unused”.

Some timeshare companies do have exit policies, Diamond for instance would have allowed this couple out free of charge under their exceptional circumstances programme, which this couple would clearly fall into.

MacDonald Resorts which has a very poor reputation on this matter, usually charges 4 years maintenance for release, but this is only offered every two years and is limited to participants on a first come first served basis.

These perpetuity contracts and the behaviour of these timeshare operators is totally unfair, at least Spain has addressed the problem, it is time for the Scottish and English law makers to address this and bring in the laws such as Spain to limit the duration of contracts and enforce reasonable exit programs. The industry cannot be trusted to do it themselves, until this is done we will be seeing many more cases such as this couple and Mrs B.

Follow the links below to Tony Hetheringtons’ latest article and his previous article from July 2014, the next two links are articles relating to Mrs B.

tony hetherington
Tony Hetherington

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/investing/article-5073153/TONY-HETHERINGTON-s-time-leave-Cameron-House-Hotel.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

http://insidetimeshare.com/illness-not-reason-surrender-timeshare/

http://insidetimeshare.com/bbc-scotland-investigates-problems-timeshare-contracts/

If you have any questions or concerns about similar circumstances, or have purchased in Spain and would like to know if you are eligible to claim, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

If you have been contacted by any company or are thinking of dealing with a company regarding claims or relinquishment and want to know if they are genuine, Inside Timeshare will help you find the information.

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