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Anfi: The Story Behind the News Part Three

Welcome to Part Three of Anfi: The Story Behind the News. So far, we have given the early story of Anfi and the dream that was to turn sour. Events and decisions made in the boardroom would in the future have serious repercussions not just for Anfi, but the entire timeshare industry. Today we look at one event which has changed things forever and made Spanish Legal History, the first Supreme Court Rulings that changed the timeshare laws. It was a long-running battle as when the Timeshare Law 42/98 was enacted on 5 January 1999, the timeshare industry did not change its practices in accordance with the new laws. These were put into place as a result of various EU Timeshare Directives which sought to protect consumers of malpractice and lay down regulations on the sale of timeshare, which previously had been totally unregulated. The timeshare industry believed they were “untouchable”, that they were too big and strong and the law was wrong. As you will see this was not to be the case.

When the Timeshare Laws were enacted in 1999, the timeshare industry was given the opportunity to get their act together and adapt their contracts to comply with the law. They were also allowed what was known as a “deed of adaptation”, this allowed those contracts sold before the enactment of Law 42/98 to remain legal as they were sold before the law was put into place, but new contracts must comply.

Many timeshare companies saw this in a different light, they interpreted the law differently, they believed that the “deed of adaptation” meant that if the resort was running before the law came into force then that meant all contracts remain the same.

As with any new laws, these must be tested in the courts and placed into jurisprudence, which means they are now “set in stone”. In the beginning, very few cases ever got to court and those which did tend to be found in favour of the timeshare companies. Many lawyers would not take these cases on, it was a new law and they did not understand it. Also, they believed the timeshare companies were too big, powerful and had plenty of money, they actually believed that they would never stand a chance of winning.

All this changed on 1st April 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled on the very first timeshare case to be brought before Spain’s Highest Court.

The story begins in 2001 When a Norwegian lady, Mrs Tove Grimsbo and her husband attended a presentation at the Anfi Resort in Gran Canaria. At the time this was a relatively new resort which was the dream of the Norwegian entrepreneur Bjorn Lyng (here was the element of trust & validity) and it was also still under development. It eventually turned into one of the flagship resorts in the timeshare world.

At the time, anyone who attended a presentation was impressed with the quality of the resort and the plans that were also in place for expansion, Mr & Mrs Grimsbo were themselves impressed and they were persuaded to purchase. They duly signed the contract and paid a deposit of 700€ by credit card, this, along with the fact the contract was “in perpetuity” and not limited to the maximum of 50 years allowed by the new law made this contract illegal.

But at the time this did not seem to bother them, after all, they would have been totally unaware of the law and the fact that Anfi had disregarded it. It was not until Mr Grimsbo passed away and Mrs Grimsbo was left with ever-increasing maintenance fees and no foreseeable way out of the contract, that things changed. As they had been told during the presentation that Anfi would “buy back” their “weeks” for the same price they paid, Mrs Grimsbo approached Anfi. It is no surprise that Anfi told her that they did not “buy back weeks”, but they could place it on the resale market. Until then she was stuck with a timeshare she did not want or wanted to use. This is not surprising considering she did not want to return to Anfi because of the memories of her late husband.

She eventually decided to speak with a local lawyer, Miguel Rodriguez Cabello, a native of Arguineguin and one of the founding lawyers of Canarian Legal Alliance. He and other lawyers worked tirelessly to research the law and eventually found that Mrs Grimsbo did indeed have a very good case. This would now make legal history.

After some time, the case went in front of the Court of First Instance of San Bartelomé de Tirajana, this court found in favour of Mrs Grimsbo and declared the contract null and void plus the return of the full purchase price. Anfi immediately appealed to the High Court of Las Palmas Gran Canaria. This court confirmed the ruling and sentence of the Court of First Instance, another win for the lawyers.

Anfi did not accept this decision, they still believed that the law was wrong, that their contract was legal because they had the “deed of adaptation”, so they took the case to the Supreme Court. This belief is the basis for Anfi and the Industry Trade Body, the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation), in their appeals and statements that the “Courts have misinterpreted the law”.

The Supreme Court Madrid

After much debate between the panel of Judges they unanimously ruled that the case of Mrs Grimsbo v Anfi was in favour of Mrs Grimsbo and that the rulings and sentences of the previous courts were confirmed. Legal history had been made, the very first timeshare case had its first major test.

The court’s ruling would have a profound effect on timeshare and would open the gates for many more claims and cases to be taken to court. In their ruling, the Judges declared that the taking of any payment even by a third party within the Statutory 14 days cooling-off period was illegal. Taking payments within this period they believed had the effect of cancelling out the cooling-off period which was designed to give consumers the chance to read the contract, terms and conditions and also reflect on whether they made the right decision.

In their ruling on the “perpetuity” side of the contract, the Judges ruled that Law 42/98 clearly stated that all contracts be limited to a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years. The Supreme Court upheld the rulings from the lower courts and confirmed the contract was illegal.

Since that momentous decision by the Supreme Court, the floodgates have opened, not just against Anfi but the whole of the timeshare industry that operated in Spain. Today we see the repercussions of just one decision made in a boardroom, to ignore the advice to change the contracts to comply with the law but continue to sell the original contracts in blatant contravention of that law.

Just this week alone there has been a steady stream of news from the High Court of Las Palmas, every appeal they have heard recently have been rejected, dismissed and the original sentence confirmed.

But this is not the only legal battle that Anfi is engaged in, another very serious controversy has been raging in Gran Canaria and finding its way to the courts, it is the debacle that is the Tauro Beach Project.

Not quite what was planned!

Tomorrow we revisit our previous articles on Tauro Beach, as it is a story that is still unfolding and has had and will undoubtedly have some very heavy repercussions, we have already seen one conviction and we believe there will be many more before this story is put to bed.








Anfi: Are They Using the Law to Delay Payments?

Following on from the recent articles about Diamond and Marriott depositing money with the courts after they ordered them to repay clients for illegal contracts, Inside Timeshare has received many inquiries regarding Anfi. today we have a quick look at the reasons why Anfi payouts to clients take so long.

For those of you familiar with our articles, Anfi is losing all cases in the Courts of First Instance, with the contracts being declared null and void and the return of the full purchase price plus double any amount taken within the statutory cooling-off period. Most would think that was the end of it and they will now get their money.

Court of First Instance Maspalomas SBT

Unfortunately, this is not the case, we have consistently reported on the constant appeals to the High Court and the Supreme Court filed by Anfi. Just in the past few months alone and on a daily basis, the High Court of Las Palmas has dismissed and rejected their appeals, confirming the sentence of the Court of First Instance. All of these dismissals are in line with the law as per the rulings (130 in total) of the Supreme Court.

Even when the law firms bringing these cases before the court’s, file “Enforcement of Sentence” proceedings, this is at the point of the first judgement being issued, and Anfi then complies by depositing the money with the court, it does not mean the client will receive payment immediately. The reason is Anfi may have lodged an appeal and therefore the courts are powerless to release the money until the appeals process is concluded.

Now, I do hear you ask, why does Anfi appeal every case?

The answer is very simple, it is a legal way of delaying what we know is the inevitable outcome, appeal dismissed and sentence confirmed.

The courts are actually powerless to do anything about it, they have to allow the appeals process to run its course. After all, it is the right of any defendant including Anfi to appeal, no matter how frivolous it may be.

The effect of these appeals not only causes a huge amount of distress to the clients, but they also clog up the whole court system, causing not only delays in these cases but other cases due to be heard by the courts.

High Court of Las Palmas GC

The results of these appeals to the High Court and the subsequent confirmation of the original sentence are published on an almost daily basis, so much so that Inside Timeshare would be publishing nothing but Anfi appeals cases if we were to follow them all.

Anfi has also tried to lodge more appeals to the Supreme Court, in March and May of this year, the Supreme Court roundly rejected appeals by Anfi. The case rejected in March was Anfi following a Diamond Resorts appeal for “clarity” of the law as they believed that there was an element of “contradiction” in some of the rulings issued by the High Courts of Las Palmas.

As with the Diamond appeal, this was rejected by the Supreme Court which declined the appeal, stating that “The interest for the appeal to the supreme court, based on contradictory rulings from the high courts is non-existent because there is already existing jurisprudence and the appealed sentence is not contradictory to the Supreme Court’s doctrine”

The Supreme Court Madrid

In other words, the law on this subject is totally clear and unambiguous, the claims of the “contradictions” simply do not exist and they will not even consider studying the case. The court in their previous rulings has made the law very clear indeed and the judgments made by the initial court (First Instance) and then the High Court are solid and stand.

We also know that these appeals are backed by The RDO (Resorts Development Organisation), which is the European timeshare industries trade body, they have consistently backed timeshare resorts with the view that the law is wrong, the judges, including those of the Supreme Court, have wrongly interpreted the law. Inside Timeshare actually finds this very amusing, panels of 12 judges sitting on each case at the Supreme Court are wrong, (in 130 rulings)!

We also believe that the appeals are also a delaying tactic for Anfi to move funds around various accounts, thereby rendering the accounts of the various companies cited in the legal action empty. This then scuppers any embargo on the accounts, there is nothing or very little in them to seize.

We have reported this on several occasions, with the investigation by the Provincial Prosecutors Office of Gran Canaria, an investigation which may ultimately lead to “criminal charges”.

This investigation not only focuses on “Punishable Insolvency”, which to briefly explain means that due to the movement of funds from the accounts of the “convicted” companies (Anfi Sales SL & Anfi Resorts SL) to other Anfi accounts, leave them technically insolvent. Thereby they are unable to pay the amounts so ordered by the courts, an insolvent company cannot pay its debts!

One of the other possible charges (criminal),  is “Frustration in the execution of sentences”, due to the Anfi tactic of “avoiding” payments which they are obliged to do so by order of the courts.

In short, considering the court’s stance on these cases it does appear to be a total waste of time and money on the part of Anfi.

As for the money, it has been muted that Anfi is claiming poverty and are unable to pay, now to Inside Timeshare this is a rather lame excuse, the costs involved in bringing these appeals is huge. It costs them to lodge an appeal with the High Court, and from the information we have, the cost of taking an appeal to the Supreme Court is around 14,000€ just to start.

We then have the costs of their own legal team, knowing Anfi, it will be a large team of rather expensive lawyers, for those who have brought cases against Anfi, they know only too well that legal fees are not cheap.

Then there is the case of the courts increasing the award to take into account these frivolous appeals, the legal interest and in most cases the legal costs of the client. So rather than paying out a small claim of say 20,000€, Anfi are willing to spend thousands more to delay payment or try and win the case!

This now leaves one important question for all those members of Anfi, whose money are they using?

Are your maintenance fees going to be increased to cover these losses?

Will the expensive rents on the locals (bars, restaurants and shops), all owned by Anfi going to increase as well, which will only increase prices for the consumer?

Inside Timeshare leaves you the reader to decide what you think, we are very clear in our own minds.

Did you purchase a timeshare in Spain after January 1999, and would like to know if you do have an illegal contract under Spanish Timeshare Law?

If so please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you with the best information possible.

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Trade & Regulatory Bodies: Can You Trust Them?

A couple of weeks ago Inside Timeshare published two articles, the first was on Celebrity Endorsements, the second on Sponsorship Deals. Both painted a rather sorry picture, but it doesn’t end there in the battle to get as much money out of you as possible, regardless of what the product is. There is another form of endorsement, “TRADE BODIES” and so-called “REGULATORY BODIES”.

You have all seen them, in fact, there has been a proliferation of them over the past few years, they may be small, and aimed at a specific trade, for instance, self-employed plumbers, gas fitters and a host of other things. Their purpose is to give you the confidence to employ them.

The person wanting to become a member will usually have to prove their quality, customer satisfaction and also abide by a code of conduct and ethics. Usually, the new member will be under a probationary period, then if the trade body is satisfied with how they conduct business, they will allow them to display the logo etc.

Generally, these small trade bodies work very well, rogue traders are normally weeded out fairly quickly, after all, the other traders will definitely not be happy that their livelihood is jeopardized by a rogue.

Unfortunately, it cannot be said for all Trade Bodies, it would seem that the larger and more wealthy the “TRADE”, they will do nothing to protect the consumer.

OK, you’ve guessed it.

We are talking about the RDO (Resort Development Organisation) in Europe and ARDA (American Resort Development Association) in the US. Today we will focus on the RDO.

Trade and Regulatory Bodies as we have said are there to promote good practice and quality, they have their “Codes of Conduct & Ethics”. They say they will sanction any member who breaks these rules. But do they?

Here is where I would like to bring in the subject of Silverpoint, formerly Resort Properties, the CEO was Mark Cushway. We all know the story, it has been published on Inside Timeshare, the Press, TV, and numerous forums.

How many people were duped into forking out huge sums (into the millions of Euros) on the “products” that the company peddled, and we must not forget the “PARENT” company, The Limora Group? It was the “Empire” of the late Robert “Bob” Trotta. I know the spelling for the surname is different, but it does conjure up a favourite “good villain” in a great British comedy show.

Joking aside, you only have to search Inside Timeshare to get the whole sorry tale.

This went on for years but did the RDO do anything even though both companies were “Paid-up Members”, and surely they must have received many complaints from consumers?

The answer my friends is a resounding NO!

According to the RDO “Code of Conduct & Ethics, they will not mediate in any dispute between the consumer and the member!

What a get out!

Now we introduce you to one of the former Directors of the RDO, yep, it’s our old friend Mark Cushway. As the CEO of Silverpoint/Resort Properties and under the control of The Limora Group, he was a director of the RDO until he resigned a few years ago. It should also be pointed out that Silverpoint/Resort Properties were reputedly the largest contributors to the RDO funds.

Say no more.

Mark Cushway, Former CEO Silverpoint and Former Director of The RDO

Several years ago Inside Timeshare published the article “A New Member to EGTBW”, it was a spoof article written to show how much of a joke these trade bodies are. EGTBW stands for the European Guild of Timeshare Blog Writers, it is affiliated to the IATBWG, the International Association of Timeshare Blog Writers Guilds

The “Code of Conduct & Ethics” for this article was actually inspired by the RDOs own codes and their unwillingness to act on behalf of the consumer. Everything they seem to announce and publish appears to those of us who follow these events as nothing but “Smoke & Mirrors”.

Yet they have the ear of the lawmakers, their lobbying machine is very efficient, to the point they influenced the House of Commons and the House of Lords into the very watered down English Timeshare Laws, in other words, the very basics. These laws were initially instigated by the E.U. Timeshare Directives to protect consumers and had to be placed in domestic law. Spain so far is the only European Country whose lawmakers have ignored the lobbying and put into place very strict regulations protecting the consumer of timeshare. Well, in Europe, Spain was the “Hotbed” of timeshare sales.

This is quite clearly shown with all the timeshare companies that operate in Spain who are now losing in the courts on a daily basis. It is costing them Millions of Euros, yet what do we hear from the “Trade Body”? It’s the Judges, they have got it wrong, they are interpreting the law wrongly!

What a joke, attempting to back up their “members” who are on the ropes and losing hand over fist and they blame the judges who ruled on 130 cases at The Supreme Court, Spain’s highest place of justice. If they were a genuine “Trade Body” shouldn’t they be on the side of the consumer and either make the timeshare resorts comply with the laws of the country they operate in or sanction them?

After all, their own “Code” does say that all members must abide by the jurisdiction and laws of the country they are operating in. You can’t get any plainer than that!

Once again, Inside Timeshare leaves it up to you the reader to decide, we welcome your comments so please do use the contact page or comments section. I’m sure that we will receive some good ones.

In the link below is the original article “A New Member to EGTBW”, which was first published on 14 June 2016, wow, that long ago. Have a read it will make you chuckle, but there is a very important message in there.

Inside Timeshare must point out that at the time of writing the resort mentioned had ceased to be a member. This fact was published later, but it still begs the question, if they will not protect the consumer from their own members, why did they not help consumers against the non-member, in other words, the “rogue” trader?

Below is the link to “Exclusive Breaking News: The Truth Behind Silverpoint Exposed.” It is a six-part article that was published between 5 June 2019 and 24 June 2019. The link also covers the Azure liquidations, they are also part of The Limora Group and sister company to Silverpoint.

Enjoy your reading. It certainly is an eye-opener.

If you purchased a timeshare, either fixed week, points, floating weeks or fractional and would like to know if your contract is illegal under Spanish Timeshare Laws, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.