It’s the end of another week and in Spain, the lockdown is beginning to ease with more people returning to work and most importantly the courts. At the moment they are not holding any trials although the judges are working where no witnesses are required to be present. Today we bring you some of the sentences which the judges have now issued for trials that took place before the closedown. We start with a very important decision from the courts in Fuengirola.
Over the years many of the timeshare companies such as Club la Costa, Diamond and MacDonald Resorts have tried to get around Spanish timeshare legislation and in the past, they have succeeded.
These companies have used on their contracts UK Limited companies with the clause arguing they are subject to UK law and the Jurisdiction of UK courts. Unfortunately, many judges for whatever reason have agreed and have refused to accept cases. But over the past few years or so, Canarian Legal Alliance has fought these moves and as we reported in the article below the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by CLC against a Malaga High Court decision that they did come under Spanish law and jurisdiction.
In the ruling from the court, the documents (see PDF below), show very clearly the precedents set by the Club la Costa cases, with the various rulings being cited. It is now clear to all, that if the timeshare is purchased in Spain then the consumer is protected by Spanish Law. This opens the gates for many timeshare owners who previously did not have a case in Spain due to the clauses in the contract of jurisdiction. Do remember that Spain has the toughest timeshare laws in Europe, the UK, however, is lacking very far behind.
The case was brought by Miguel Ángel Melián Santana (Abogado) and Francisco Cornelia Montesdeoca Quesada (Procurador) of Canarian Legal Alliance.
On Monday 1 June, the High Court Number 3 in Tenerife (this is the appeal court), declared a UK client’s Silverpoint contract null & void with the return of over 60,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest.
The claim is now being registered with the Mercantile Court making the client a “creditor” as well as being handed over to the Enforcement Team of CLA to secure the funds through property embargoes of the Limora Group. Along with this further embargoes are being sought against assets held by the ex-managing director of Silverpoint. From these proceedings, it is clear that CLA is doing whatever it takes to ensure their clients receive their lawful payments.
The following day was not a good one for Anfi Sales SL and Anfi Resorts SL, the case was heard at the Court of First Instance of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Gran Canaria. Ths court ruled that 4 contracts be declared null and void with the client to be returned over 15,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest.
On Wednesday the High Court Number 5 the appeal court of Las Palmas GC, confirmed the original ruling made at the Court of First Instance against Anfi, yet again.
The contract was declared null and void with the court awarding 152,345.38€ plus by way of a fine a further 26,743.68 for the illegal taking of payments during the statutory cooling-off period. This happy German client is now timeshare free and 179,088.68€ better off.
This morning another German client of CLA has just received their sentence from the courts in Fuengirola against Club la Costa. The court declared the contract null and void and awarded the client 10,100.85€ plus 15,782.03€ by way of a fine for the illegal taking of deposits within the cooling-off period giving a total of 25,882.88€
The client was assisted once again by Jasmin Erhard with Óscar Salvador Santana González who was in charge of the case.
So it is congratulations to the happy clients and a very big well done to the team at Canarian Legal Alliance.
That is all for this week, hopefully Inside Timeshare will be running back to normal next week, in the meantime have a great weekend and stay safe.
Due to the lockdown in Spain there is no news from the courts at present so we have re-published a previous article to add a little bit of humour to the current situation. Back in June 2016 Inside Timeshare published the following article, it started with a “Spoof” Trade Body which Inside Timeshare had just become a member of. Due to some of the articles we have published recently it was decided to republish this article as a warning that even “Trade Bodies” cannot be relied upon to give consumers the best advice or even tell the truth. (The article has also been amended from the original).
Although the article starts with some humour the message is very real, we hope that you enjoy reading it.
Inside Timeshare is proud to announce that it has been invited to become a member of the prestigious trade body EGTBW. This is the European Guild of Timeshare Blog Writers, it is affiliated to the IATBWG, the International Association of Timeshare Blog Writers Guilds.
Becoming a member means that Inside Timeshare must adhere to the Code of Conduct and Ethics of this Organisation.
Members must not attack, make detrimental comments or otherwise demean any organisation that is a member or affiliated to EGTBW or IATBWG.
Members must adhere to the laws of the EU, or the country of registration. Unless we can get away with it.
The EGTBW and IATBWG will not mediate in any dispute between a member and non-members.
If any organisation or entity has a complaint about a member of this organisation it must be taken directly to the member concerned.
Any member may lie or spread false information about any non-member, citing freedom of speech and expression.
If any action is taken against a member, both organisations will fully support that member, no matter what it has done wrong.
Members may display both the EGTBW and IATBWG logos on all promotional material, correspondence and websites.
This Logo is a sign of quality and is a kitemark of excellence.
So there we have it Inside Timeshare has paid its £20,000 a year membership fee for the full protection and backup of these prestigious organisations. It now means we can do what the hell we like, so there!
If this was not a joke it would be farcical but unfortunately, this is all too real in timeshare. On a daily basis we see owners and members being treated in the most disrespectful manner, we have also seen numerous court cases against the timeshare industry for breaking legislation.
There is an organisation that is supposed to be the trade body of this industry The RDO, (In the US it is ARDA), but it is its own members that are breaking the rules. What do they do about it? Not a sausage.
This organisations own code of conduct states that members should adhere to any legislation and laws regarding the sale of timeshare. Yet we see illegal contracts still being sold, deposits being taken on the day, all in breach of EU Directives which are supposed to be in each member state’s laws.
The industry funds this organisation and it does its bidding, it will not even investigate its members when a complaint is made by an owner or member. They say that you must deal with your own resort/company.
They also believe that the press does not research the stories they publish, creating even more of a slur on the industry. Following is a direct quote from their own website under why join the RDO:
“Vacation ownership has been the victim of poorly researched press attention. These articles and broadcasts can cause serious and lasting damage to the reputation of the industry. RDO works on behalf of vacation ownership companies to clear up any misinformation, accusations of sharp business practices and to actively encourage the education of journalists and travel bloggers.”
“We believe that this work directly benefits all businesses in the industry by maintaining buyer confidence in holiday ownership. Additionally, RDO members have the added marketing advantage of being able to display the RDO logo on their marketing material. The RDO logo is a Kite Mark of quality for the holiday ownership industry and enables RDO Members to offer additional peace of mind to their customers.”
So a prestigious journalist such as Tony Hetherington has poorly researched his articles. (It must be pointed out thatMacDonald Resorts have not been RDO members since 2005, but these articles highlight a problem that is rampant throughout the industry).
On another point, there have been numerous rulings made by the Spanish Supreme Courtregarding the timeshare laws, Anfi (an RDO member) have been on the receiving end of these rulings, having contracts declared null and void and huge amounts having to be repaid to consumers. Anfi believe the court has got it wrong, the RDO it seems agrees with them!
For many, timeshare has become a burden, the membership base is aging, new younger members are not being attracted to the concept, hence many sales offices are closing and staff being laid off. Yet those that want to get out of their membership are being held to “ransom”, they can’t sell (no resale market) and can’t get out without paying huge amounts for the privilege.
What does the RDO do about this problem of getting out of the timeshare?
It enhances its “Code of Conduct” for so-called “legacy” cases, or those sold in perpetuity. The rules are not really very helpful and are as follows:
In the event of the death of a joint owner, the surviving owner can surrender their timeshare if they wish and additionally, the beneficiaries of a will are not obliged to take on the timeshare if they do not wish to do so.
A timeshare owner who has been declared bankrupt may hand back the timeshare without charge.
If a sole owner or either of the joint owners is suffering from a long-term illness that prevents them from travelling to their resort for the foreseeable future, the timeshare interest may be surrendered.
In all other cases, an owner may surrender their timeshare interest at any time, subject to the agreement of the RDO member. In such cases any surrender fee shall not exceed a sum equivalent to 3 years current maintenance fees.
(Notice it states “Subject to the agreement”)
As the industry trade body, should not the RDO back up these owners and make sure their members act in an ethical manner.
No surprise here, they back the RDO plans to the hilt, after all they are funded by RDO members who pay them to be members of TATOC, all so they can display this organisation’s logo. Oh sorry, it is another sign of prestige, you can trust us we are members of The RDO and TATOC; just look at our logos!
Since this article was first published TATOC has now been totally discredited and forced into bankruptcy. (Search TATOC in the search bar for previous articles). For years this organisation run by the infamous “Harry or is it Henry” Taylor, duped timeshare owners into believing that it was a credible organisation out to protect timeshare owners. It has now been proven that this was not in fact the case, in fact TATOC’s backing of MacDonald Resorts move to transfer their fixed week owners to the infamous points system and become members of a vacation club rather than owners, is a prime example.
We started this article with a spoof, the only thing is this spoof is real when it comes to timeshare. The industry is in decline, its reputation has been sullied, it only has itself to blame, the past greed and belief that they could get away with anything has finally caught up with it. Consumers no longer believe the “sales pitch”, they can see it is not value for money, members see their resorts being rented out to non members on the internet, usually for less than their maintenance fees. Yet the industry and the Trade Bodies cannot see the writing on the wall because they still believe they are right!
Inside Timeshare will continue to highlight any bad practice and report any news within the world of timeshare. If you have any questions regarding your ownership/membership, or need to know which company to deal with, contact Inside Timeshare and we will get back to you.
One question Inside Timeshare receives on a regular basis is in regards to maintenance fees, “should we just stop paying them?”. Looking at many of the timeshare forums the general answer from posters is “yes, just ignore the bills, that is what I did, they won’t take you to court”.
It is also one of the main points that the so called relinquishment / cancellation / exit companies tell their clients, “once you sign up with us, don’t pay”.
Unfortunately, that is not quite true.
Many of the timeshare companies will chase for unpaid maintenance, at first through their own collections departments, but eventually they will pass these arrears to a debt collecting agency. Diamond along with other companies tend to use one of the biggest agencies in the UK, Daniels Silverman, based in Liverpool. MacDonald Resorts use Network Credit Services, based in Hamilton, Scotland.
The Ona Group based in Barcelona, Spain, actively chase unpaid maintenance fees, even for resorts they have taken over and the owner ended the contract with the original resort over 10 years ago. Ona Group say they have no record of the contract being cancelled and are taking those people through the Spanish Courts for upto 15 years unpaid fees. They use a law firm based in Barcelona called Punt Blau, who say they are are expert lawyers in the field of timeshare. The worst part of this will be the cost to the “debtor”, once the Spanish court has issued the judgement, it will be passed to a UK law firm and go through the County Courts for execution.
Once the debt has been passed to these agencies, you will be dealing with them not the resort, they will also incur huge amounts of interest and legal fees. You also then risk being issued with a County Court Judgement, commonly known as a CCJ. This will also have a very negative affect on your credit rating, preventing you from getting loans and even a mortgage.
Another question that arises from these enquiries is, “has anyone ever been taken to court, if so can you show us the judgements?”
“Nobody has posted on any forum that they have been taken to court and lost”.
Well that is not surprising, would you publicise the fact that you have had a county court judgement made against you?
Agreed, it is not always taken to court, in most of the cases the person will give in to the threats of the debt collectors and pay. After all many of these owners are getting on in years and just want out, but they also have old views on debt, the stigma of being taken to court is a definite NO.
For the past few years Inside Timeshare has been highlighting the case of an elderly lady, now 90 years old, we called her Mrs B. She paid a company over £5000 to get her out of her MacDonalds timeshare at Dona Lola, this was in 2015. She was told the timeshare was no longer her responsibility and not to pay any further maintenance.
Her “debt” has been passed to Network Credit Services, this has now been handed over to a law firm Shepherd Wedderburn based in Edinburgh.
This firm is threatening to take her to court over the “debt”.
In their correspondence they even sent her copies of court judgements of MacDonald Resorts members who have been taken to court and had CCJs issued against them. They literally boast about it, which to an old lady is in our opinion a very serious threat.
They even place in their letter headed “Claims already issued in England and Scotland”, 4 cases along with which courts, case numbers and the names of the people involved, where MRL has won the claim.
Manchester County Court, Mr & Mrs S, case number C8QZ5392
Elgin Sheriff Court Scotland, Mr & Mrs C, case number ELG-SG24-18
Airdrie Sheriff Court Scotland, Mr & Mrs F, case number AIR-SG76-18
Gloucester & Cheltenham County Court, Mr & Mrs C, Case number E8QZ399H
These are genuine cases, these people have been ordered to pay and now have the dreaded CCJ on their credit files. All because they believed what they were told or read on various forums by idiots who have nothing better to do than give out bogus information on subjects they know nothing about.
There are ways of being rid of your timeshare, not paying your maintenance fees is not one of them. It may have been in the past when non-payment after 3 years the timeshare was repossessed, it may still hold true for the smaller independents, but for most of the big timeshare companies that is no longer the case.
If you have any questions on this subject and would like to know what your options are for relinquishing your timeshare, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.