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SEPRONA

News from The Courts: Anfi Losing on all Fronts

Today we move from the “fake” law firms and bring you some news from the courts where Anfi is once again in the frame. As our title suggests, Anfi is losing everything, the High Court (appeals) are dismissing every case Anfi is taking to them and confirming the sentences and judgements issued by the Courts of First Instance. There has also been some breaking news on the continuing story of the Anfi Tauro Beach Project which Inside Timeshare has been bringing you over the past year or so.

We begin with the latest news from the courts, on 30 July, The High Court Number 3 of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, dismissed yet another appeal by Anfi against the original judgement from the Court of First Instance of San Bartelomé de Tirajana (SBT).

The English clients, represented by Canarian Legal Alliance had the sentence confirmed by the High Court, with their contract being declared illegal and therefore null and void. They have been awarded 18,530.19€ plus legal costs and legal Interest.

The clients were assisted by the CLA Consultant Jake Kaiser with the case being prepared by one of the senior lawyers Eva Gutierrez.

The following day High Court Number 5 of Las Palmas, also dismissed another appeal launched by Anfi against the judgement made by the Court of First Instance of SBT.

In this case, the Swedish client was assisted by the CLA Consultant Michael Gadman, with the case being prepared and conducted by Eve Gutierrez and Hector Cachero.

The High Court once again affirmed the original sentence declaring the contract null and void with the return of 14,532€ plus legal costs and legal interest.

On Monday 3 August, the Court of First Instance Number 3 of SBT, ruled in favour of another English client. This case is very interesting as it was presented to the court in October 2019, now considering the situation with the courts being closed due to the pandemic, with a delay of 3 months, the case has actually taken 6 months. A very speedy result. Hopefully, clients will see more of this in the future.

In this case, the client’s contract with Anfi has been declared null and void with the return of 94,345.61€ Plus legal costs and legal interest. The court in calculating the amount took into account the illegal paying of any money within the statutory cooling-off period and awarded them double the amount by way of compensation.

The clients were assisted by the Consultant Jake Kaiser with the case being prepared and presented by the lawyer Oscar Salvador Santana Gonzalez.

Yesterday 4 August, yet another appeal by Anfi was dismissed with the original judgement of the Court of First Instance of SBT being confirmed.

Once again it was the High Court Number 5, which was sitting in judgement of the appeal, confirming the award of 27,729.43€ Plus legal costs and legal Interest. This also included double the amount paid as a deposit within the statutory cooling-off period. The contract was also declared null and void.

This ruling will now be subject to enforcement action on behalf of the client to ensure that Anfi pays as ordered.

The Danish client was assisted by the Claims Consultant Michael Gadman, with the case being prepared and presented by the lawyers Eva Gutierrez and Hector Cachero.

It is now obvious that the High Courts are taking a very dim view of the constant appeals by Anfi, which we know are frivolous and designed to cause as much delay in payments and causing stress to the clients.

Once again it is a very big congratulations to the whole legal team at CLA and also to the clients who are now timeshare free and about to receive their money back.

Full of irregularities

We now move to the breaking news about the Anfi Tauro Beach Project.

As most of our readers will know Inside Timeshare has been following this story right from the start. (Search Anfi Tauro Beach using the search box).

We know that the work on the project to build a man-made beach at Tauro began without the proper legal permissions or licences, with the Head of the Coastal Authority José María Hernández de León, being dismissed and his trial is as far as we know still underway.


José María Hernández de León
Appearing in Court

This trial was set to open up a can of worms, especially if it turns out that Anfi had influenced the passing of the plans and the starting of the work without the correct permissions and licences.

The Mayor of Mogan Onalia Bueno was also being investigated for authorising the work to start before the permissions were signed, several months after the fact. As far as we know that investigation is still underway. And has not yet been concluded.

El Diario, published on the 3 August (Monday) the news that the concessions to “exploit” Tauro beach has now been officially cancelled by the General Directorate of Coasts. One of the reasons is that the Anfi Group failed to fulfil their obligations of the necessary land transfers to expand the beach.

The project and the object of the concession were to expand the beach from 180 meters long by 18 meters wide to 280 meters by 50 meters. The project was initially to use sand leftover from Las Canteras beach in the Capitol Las Palmas. But as we know this was not the case, sand was illegally imported from the Morrocan occupied territory of Western Sahara, this is illegal under UN sanctions and also European Union regulations.

The use of this sand also has a very serious environmental impact on the area which also includes a protected undersea area around 300 meters from the shore. This case was originally investigated by Seprona, the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Service. The work has now been stopped for years due to the Judicial proceedings which are underway.

The full story can be found on the links below with translations into English, Danish German, Norwegian and Swedish. Apologies if these translations are not accurate as we have used Google translate. But Inside Timeshare is sure you will get the full gist of the story.

El Diario original in Spanish

https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/sociedad/costas-anula-concesion-tauro-anfi-incumplir-cesiones-terreno_1_6145194.html?fbclid=IwAR1BJpzAAOktLc5yRpp5LjBHDtsKzH8z-qqbMuxTM2h792CW10m_daeX3HM

English Translation

https://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&tab=rT&authuser=0&sl=es&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldiario.es%2Fcanariasahora%2Fsociedad%2Fcostas-anula-concesion-tauro-anfi-incumplir-cesiones-terreno_1_6145194.html%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR1BJpzAAOktLc5yRpp5LjBHDtsKzH8z-qqbMuxTM2h792CW10m_daeX3HM

Danish

https://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&tab=rT&authuser=0&sl=es&tl=da&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldiario.es%2Fcanariasahora%2Fsociedad%2Fcostas-anula-concesion-tauro-anfi-incumplir-cesiones-terreno_1_6145194.html%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR1BJpzAAOktLc5yRpp5LjBHDtsKzH8z-qqbMuxTM2h792CW10m_daeX3HM

German translation

https://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&tab=rT&authuser=0&sl=es&tl=de&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldiario.es%2Fcanariasahora%2Fsociedad%2Fcostas-anula-concesion-tauro-anfi-incumplir-cesiones-terreno_1_6145194.html%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR1BJpzAAOktLc5yRpp5LjBHDtsKzH8z-qqbMuxTM2h792CW10m_daeX3HM

Norwegian Translation

https://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&tab=rT&authuser=0&sl=es&tl=no&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldiario.es%2Fcanariasahora%2Fsociedad%2Fcostas-anula-concesion-tauro-anfi-incumplir-cesiones-terreno_1_6145194.html%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR1BJpzAAOktLc5yRpp5LjBHDtsKzH8z-qqbMuxTM2h792CW10m_daeX3HM

Swedish Translation

https://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&tab=rT&authuser=0&sl=es&tl=sv&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldiario.es%2Fcanariasahora%2Fsociedad%2Fcostas-anula-concesion-tauro-anfi-incumplir-cesiones-terreno_1_6145194.html%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR1BJpzAAOktLc5yRpp5LjBHDtsKzH8z-qqbMuxTM2h792CW10m_daeX3HM

Start the Week: Diamond Lose in Tenerife; Latest news on Tauro Beach and Anfi.

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, today we report on two cases Diamond Resorts have lost in Tenerife, but first we look at the disturbing scenes at Tauro Beach over the weekend.

Over the past year Inside Timeshare has been reporting on the debacle that is the Anfi Tauro Beach Project, this has been an ongoing saga, with charges being brought against the former head of the coastal authority along with others and a full blown investigation by Seprona, the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Service.

It has been well reported that Anfi had plans to transform the old shingle beach into a man made one with sand, build a marina and also several hotels with a shopping complex on the land behind. It turns out that part of the investigation into the beach found the sand had been illegally imported from the Western Sahara. (see link to The Guardian Article).

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/28/trouble-in-paradise-the-canary-island-beach-accused-of-illegally-importing-sand

Now a company called Desokupa went in over the weekend and began demolishing the homes of those who live there. The reason is the land “belongs” to Anfi, who claim that these dwellings are illegal. Whether they are or not is not the point, considering that there are no planning permissions in place and the fact that the Anfi concession to run the beach is on hold while the Gran Canarian government apply to the courts to revoke the licenses. Should these demolitions have waited until the outcome?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIHbrdIC_To&feature=share

Was there a court order which allowed Anfi to bring in the bulldozers?

All valid questions which will eventually be answered, but what we have lost is a little bit of old Gran Canaria and a very popular paradise spot, for locals and tourists alike. The bar Pio Pio is one of the most popular venues in the area at the weekend, with a wonderful atmosphere and great music. Is that now in danger!

https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/sociedad/Violento-derribo-chabolas-Tauro_2_794790515.html

Since publishing this following has appeared on facebook for Nueva Canarias

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10155352630021755&id=185892306754

It will take you to the link below, this is very disturbing news.

http://canarias-semanal.org/not/23270/un-comando-de-boxeadores-peninsulares-viaja-a-gran-canaria-para-derribar-chabolas-video-/

Now for the court cases against Diamond Resorts and a look at timeshare law compared to other places.

Both these cases were heard at the High Court No 3, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, both were appeals on behalf of the British clients. These cases were originally held at the Courts of First Instance and unfortunately the clients lost those cases. These were heard before the Supreme Court in Madrid issued the numerous rulings (now 126) on how the timeshare laws should be interpreted and applied.

Before these rulings, different courts and judges interpreted the laws differently, no one actually knew how the laws should be applied. This is nothing unusual in legal work, laws are put into place, but it is not until they are tested and challenged are they effective, this is what the Supreme Court has done, issued a definitive interpretation.

In the first case, the client has been awarded over 19,000€ plus legal interest, with the contract being declared null and void.

In the second case held at the same court, over 30,000€ has been awarded plus legal interest, again the contract being declared null and void.

The court found several infringements of Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98, (along with other relevant Consumer Laws), with contracts being over 50 years in duration and the illegal taking of payments within the cooling off period. The court also found as per the rulings from Spain’s Highest Court that the contracts lacked any substance or tangible product as they were points based. These have been declared illegal in Spain. (See PDF’s below for the court sentences).

HC n 3 Diamond 1

HC N3 Diamond 2

So how does Spain’s timeshare laws compare with elsewhere?

During the early days in Europe, timeshare was virtually unregulated, know one actually knew what it was, was it real estate, as that is how it was “sold” to the public, a share in your own holiday home, or was it purely a holiday product which was not an investment?

The free for all lasted some years, then the European Union issued the first of many Timeshare Directives, these were to try and regulate the industry, with the directives supposedly being put into the domestic laws of each member state. Basically all singing off the same hymn sheet!

In some countries, the directives were very much watered down, the industry trade body The RDO and the “representing” owners body TATOC, (now defunct), successfully lobbied the UK parliament and those laws are probably the weakest in Europe, they tend to be in favour of the industry not the consumer.

Spain on the other hand had a very different approach, which in some respects is not that surprising. Spain was one of the major places for timeshare development, they had just recently found freedom and democracy, with the country in dire need of development. The building of resorts and the tourist industry was one of the most important factors in this development.

The unfortunate thing is the free run timeshare developers had, timeshare was being sold even before the resorts were actually started, known as off plan. Many consumers got stung in these enterprises, with the resort they paid for never even getting built.

People on holiday were being picked up off the street left right and center, taken to sales presentations and coerced into parting with huge sums of money. Spain’s reputation as a great holiday destination was being sullied by these practices.

That all changed in December 1998, when the government introduced Law 42/98, based on the EU Timeshare Directives, but stronger. Spain was going to have the strongest laws in Europe and this was going to hurt the industry if they didn’t comply.

The law became effective on 5 January 1999, although they did allow a period where the timeshare companies could get their house in order and comply. One aspect of the law was regarding the duration of the contract, before, these were sold in perpetuity, there was no end date. The law now demanded that contracts be for a duration of a minimum 3 years and maximum of 50 years. Timeshare companies were allowed to place a deed of adaptation to all contracts sold before the law came into place, this allowed the pre 99 perpetuity contracts to remain, but all new sales must conform.

Many ignored this, on advice from their lawyers many continued to sell perpetuity, citing the deed of adaptation as the basis for carrying on. This obviously was one point that needed to be tested in the Supreme Court, but that would be many years ahead.

As a point of interest, there were two countries where timeshare laws only allowed for a maximum of 30 years on contracts, they are Madeira and Malta. Those had been put into place right at the start of timeshare development.

Another aspect of the law which Spain has put into place is the illegality of the Floating Weeks and Points systems. According the the Supreme Court they have ruled the timeshare law clearly states that any contract must have substance and tangibility, in other words the guarantee of the apartment and the week being sold. Floating weeks and points do not do this, you only have a right to use subject to availability.

So how does this compare with our friends experience across the Great Lake in the US?

Well from the many articles we have published on Inside Timeshare, they are sadly lacking any control or real consumer protection, it is pot luck which State you have purchased as to what protection you have. There appear to be no Federal Laws governing the sale of timeshare.

In Europe we have the 14 day cooling off period, where no payments should be taken and the consumer has the right to cancel, in some States we have been informed this can be as little as 3 days!

From what we have published, there are so many different agencies and authorities for the consumer to turn to, from Attorneys General (that depends on which State you are in) to the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI. (See link below on filing a complaint).

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-teusday-slot-with-irene/

We are seeing many complaints coming into Inside Timeshare on the practises of sales agents, which the timeshare companies seem to condone. There needs to be regulations to govern what is acceptable and what is not, these should be right across the board so that no matter which State you purchase in, the rules are the same for all.

Canada is preparing new legislation on the regulation of timeshare, we hope to bring you news of this from our Canadian readers in the near future.

South Africa is also pushing for changes, there have been several high profile cases against the timeshare industry, resulting in jail time and massive fines. It will not be long before they also have some of the strongest laws regulating timeshare in the world.

In Australia, there is also a move to regulate the timeshare industry, we have published in the past a couple of articles on timeshare down under. Again we wait for our Antipedian friends to submit their articles.

There is nothing wrong with the concept of timeshare, it may not suit everybody, after all we are all different, but it is how it is sold and administered that is the problem. For too long the industry has and in many cases, the US in particular, still carries on as though they are untouchable.

Diamond believed this in Spain, these cases highlighted today and those in the past along with the many more waiting to be heard, are letting them know that they are not above the law and will be curbed and brought to justice. Consumer protection is paramount in any industry, after all it is the consumer’s money that keeps any company afloat!

If you have any comments on this or any other article, then use our contact page, Inside Timeshare welcomes them.

Are you being contacted by different companies offering claims or relinquishments? If so and you are not sure if they are genuine and will do what they say, then contact Inside Timeshare, we will help you look for the information and point you in the right direction.

Tomorrow we publish an article by a new contributor, Diane Creager and titled Elder Advocates, so join us tomorrow and welcome Diane.

End of August Roundup

Considering August is usually a quiet month with all the holidays, Inside Timeshare has had quite a run on articles. We began August with news on the Tauro Beach Project entitled “Tauro Beach: In the UK News”.

This followed the publication of a story in The Guardian, a UK newspaper, on the importation of the sand used to build the beach, from Western Sahara. The article by Anders Lundqvist and Rowan Bauer, two independent journalists who investigated the possible illegal importation of the sand.

They explained that if this sand did originate from the Western Sahara, which it most certainly looks like, it was against UN Resolutions and rulings from the European Court of Justice. In their article they quote the head of SEPRONA in Gran Canaria, Lt Germán Garciá who stated “The sand was brought illegally, it was discharged with no control at all,” we know this has caused concern among environmentalist on the Island, as there is a protected area just 300 meters off the beach.

gc-seprona

For the full story follow the links at the end of this article.

The following day we published the Mid Week Report, this started with the news that TATOC had truly gone as their website is no longer accessible. It was then followed with a link to The Canary News, an English language newspaper based in Gran Canaria. The Canary News article by Ed Timon, the editor, gave a very good insight into the history of Western Sahara, which was the subject of the previous article.. (Again see links below).

We also published the first article of the month from Irene Parker, from our US branch, this was to do with a lawsuit in the US by Welk Resorts against Timeshare Exit Team. This is the first in a series of articles highlighting lawsuits by timeshare developers against resale / exit companies and law firms.

Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare was the title of the next article. This highlighted Timeshare Compensation’s blog on Silverpoint now known as Signallia. In this blog Timeshare Compensation warns its readers of the “dodgy” past of this company, which was very surprising indeed as the owner of Timeshare Compensation, Mark Rowe, is an ex-senior sales manager of Silverpoint and thereby employee of Robert “Bob” Trotta. Told you there were some strange things in the world of timeshare!

loyalty1

In our first Friday’s Letter from America for the month, we published the article by Eron Grant, this covered the question of why does ARDA have a code of ethics? One question we have also asked of the RDO.

Once again that family of fake law firms in Tenerife came up, yes you know the ones, Litigious Abogados.

Another new contributor from the US made her debut, Bonita Hill. Her article was on the question of Diamond’s Clarity Programme, regarding the Oral Representation Clause. This was launched in response to an Assurance of Discontinuance issued by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Diamond has stated they intend to go beyond the requirements of the AOD.

We then published “Truth, What is Truth?” This was in response to readers enquiries about Anfi denying losing any court cases. This has caused confusion among members, after all these cases have been publicised in the press, yet Anfi tell everyone it is not true! So who do you believe?

In the next Friday’s Letter from America, we published Part 4 “Our DRI Misadventures” by David Franks. He Joined our team of writers from the US, some months ago and has given us a great deal of fun. He certainly has a style of his own and is a welcome member to the team.

We then started our “Hug Your Haters! A Customer Service Message” by Irene Parker, this is based on the book Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer. He is to be a keynote speaker at the Interval International Shared Ownership Conference to be held at the Miami Beach Eden Roc Hotel October 23 – 25. Mr. Baer has advised more than 700 companies including The United Nations and 32 Fortune 500 companies.

Next came the news of a story we published last year, it involved The Manhattan Club in New York. The NY AG Eric T Schneiderman had suspended all sales at the club back in July 2014, this followed many complaints of deceitful practises. The case is now finally over, with a settlement of $6.5 million, also the owners are being forced to sell and have been barred from participating in the timeshare industry. Well done Eric, one for the consumer!

Attorny_General_Eric_T_Schneiderman
NY AG Eric T Schneiderman

Once again Karen Garello from our Timeshare Advocacy, contributed another “Secret Shopper Report”. In this article, Karen gives sound advice on the questions you should ask when going on a sales presentation. Following her advice could save a lot of problems in the future.

It was back to Europe for our next piece, this was titled “ Timeshare In the Press”. This was actually very timely as it followed on from the Truth What is Truth article, it was based on the article in the Spanish paper El Diario. It highlighted the Supreme Court rulings, mainly against the Tenerife company Silverpoint, who just like Anfi deny any cases going to court or being lost.

It also included the article published in The Canary News, based on the one from the paper La Provincia, this began with a recap of the groundbreaking first Supreme Court ruling back in March 2015. Again throwing out the claims of the timeshare industry that these are all fictitious cases.

There followed a couple more articles by Irene Parker and a Timeshare Advocate. The first highlighted the  lawsuits between developers and law firms, the second was an open letter to the timeshare industry. Whether they take any notice is another thing.

In The Monday Briefing, we again focused on the Litigious Abogados family, giving a recap on how they operate their rather sophisticated scam, but also some sound advice which if followed will protect you from becoming one of their victims.

In the same article we welcomed and wished all the best to a new forum for timeshare owners, Timeshare Users Forum. This has been set up by disgruntled members of Timeshare Talk, a previously independent forum. We won’t go into detail here, but you can read the full article.

The last article for August was Part II of Hug Your Haters: A Customer Service Message.

So that is it for August, tomorrow we don’t cross the great lake to the US, we go to the land down under, for another Letter from Australia, contributed by Justin Morgan, on the role of private equity and the secondary market in timeshare. Do join us and bring your didgeridoo!

didgeridoo

Links to some of this month’s articles.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-uk-news/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-latest-development/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/28/trouble-in-paradise-the-canary-island-beach-accused-of-illegally-importing-sand?CMP=share_btn_fb

http://insidetimeshare.com/loyalty-no-thing-timeshare/

http://insidetimeshare.com/truth-what-is-truth/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-15/

http://insidetimeshare.com/manhattan-club-6-5-million-settlement/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-16/

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-in-the-press/

http://insidetimeshare.com/legal-news-us-castle-law-group-pc-v-timeshare-developers/