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Tove Grimsbo

Start the Week: The Layman’s Simple Guide Supreme Court Rulings

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, over the past few weeks the rulings of the Supreme Court have been mentioned in many of the articles. These rulings have been simply explained in several articles over the years, but it is worth going over them again and explaining the main points of the law, which is the basis for all the contracts being declared null and void. We are seeing the results of this play out in various courts around Spain.

When Spain passed the Timeshare Law 42/98 in 1998 (updated with Law 4/12) which then came into effect on 5 January 1999, it should have come as no surprise to the timeshare industry, after all, it was totally unregulated and a free-for-all. The EU issued directives on the use, sale of timeshare and the protection of consumers, with the purpose that the directives were to be placed in each member state’s own domestic laws. The idea was to unify the rules for the industry Europe wide, so no matter where a consumer purchases they are all protected equally.

As is always the case with any new law, there is always debate on the interpretation of those laws, the timeshare laws were no exception. The industry employed teams of lawyers, with the Industry Trade Body the RDO at the head, all looking at how they will be affected and more importantly how they can manipulate the interpretation of those laws to their own advantage.

In a way, they were very successful at the start, the law did allow for timeshares sold before it came into force for those contracts issued before that date to be legal under the “Deed of Adaptation”. With any law, it cannot be enforced retrospectively, so this “Deed” allowed the timeshare resorts to continue those contracts under the old regime.

However, all new contracts sold and issued after 5 January 1999 would most definitely come under the new laws, a point the timeshare resorts decided to ignore, probably on advice (we say this tongue in cheek) from their own (expensive) lawyers. They interpreted the “Deed of Adaptation” in a different light to what the lawmakers had intended.

According to their way of thinking, as the “resort” was up and running before the law came into effect, then the “Deed of Adaptation” would cover all new contracts sold. They believed that it only affected new resorts and not existing ones, Anfi is a very good case in point, this has been the main basis for all their early appeals.

Consumers Beware!

It should also be said that the industry trade body, the RDO, (Resorts Development Organisation) appeared to back up this belief, even today the RDO still believe that the interpretation of the law is wrong!

At first, the timeshare companies were successful in arguing their point before the courts, after all, it was a new law, there was no real direction for the courts and judges to follow. It was basically down to them to decide on the evidence and interpretations presented to them.

Consumers who tried to bring cases lost, the lawyers who they employed were not experienced in this field of law and had rings run around them by the experienced lawyers of the timeshare companies. What was put into place to protect consumers, was not working, everything was in favour of the industry.

The length of the contract, which was limited to a minimum of three years and a maximum of 50 years, was being defeated in the courts, the timeshare companies lawyers successfully arguing that the “Deed of Adaptation” covered this point.

Deposits being taken within the “statutory cooling-off” period were illegal but still being taken, this was hidden by various means, such as an “invoice” showing payment for accommodation, not linked to the timeshare sale. This was very common when the purchaser was moved into the resort to complete their vacation after purchase, usually as a way of consolidating the deal.

Tribunal Supremo Madrid

The very first case to make it to the Supreme Court was the Norwegian lady Mrs Tove Grimsbo, this was against Anfi. Her case began in the Courts of First Instance, and after many appeals to the High Court, it came before the Supreme Court which eventually made a ruling. Legal History had been made, the judges ruled her contract was illegal on this and other points, the “Deed of Adaptation” did not apply. Contracts over 50 years in duration were most definitely illegal.

The second important case to come before Spain’s Highest Court was Mrs Shirley Wilson and her case against Silverpoint /Resort Properties.

This particular case was one of the most difficult for the courts, there were many aspects that were unclear as to the interpretation of the law.

In the case of Mrs Wilson, she was sold “timeshare” as an investment, it was portrayed as not being timeshare but property or real estate. This would generate a rental income and a profit for her when finally sold, well, we all know the story of this particular scheme.

At first Silverpoint lawyers argued that she was not a consumer of timeshare but an investor in property, therefore the timeshare laws did not apply. Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled that what she purchased was indeed timeshare and not property. A very significant win for all consumers who purchased from Silverpoint.

Another very important ruling, in this case, involved the use of the timeshare, there was no week number or apartment number attached and the consumer had no right of use of these timeshares. Basically, there were points attached for any use within the resort system.

The Supreme Court ruled on this, citing Article 1.7 of Law 42/98, this reads as follows (Translated from Spanish):

“The contract under which constitutes or transmit any right, real or personal, for more than three years and on the use of one or more real time during a specified or ascertainable period a year on the sidelines of this law shall be null and void, owing be returned to the purchaser or transferee or paid any income considerations, as well as compensation for damages suffered.”

All we can say is no wonder there was confusion.

Basically what it states is that a timeshare must consist of a fixed week with a week number and an apartment attached which is available each and every year to the “owner”. With points or floating week, this right is removed and is a “right to use subject to availability”. Not really what you have paid for.

This was the first ruling on points and floating weeks, it established the precedent that unless the timeshare was a fixed week, with number and apartment, then it was illegal under the law.

So these two cases set the scene for the situation we have today, 130 rulings from the Supreme Court, squarely placing the law into jurisprudence. This is being followed closely by the Courts of First Instance and the High Court as we have been seeing with all the cases we highlight.

There are many other laws that a competent timeshare lawyer may use as well as the timeshare laws, these may be covered by Consumer Laws and Mercantile Laws, but these are on a case by case basis, so may not apply to all timeshare contracts. It is certainly a legal minefield.

Despite all the rulings and rejections of appeals made by the Supreme Court and the dismissal of appeals by the High Court, in accordance with the Supreme Court Doctrine, we still see timeshare companies making appeals. This is something that baffles all lawyers, consumers and forums such as Inside Timeshare, leaving us with the same old question “WHY?”

The only logical reason we can think of is “greed”, they have your money and don’t want to give it back and any method to avoid payment will be used. A very costly strategy indeed.

Greed or Stupidity?

Did you purchase a timeshare in Spain after 5 January 1999, is the duration longer than 50 years, is it points or floating week based, this includes fractional, did you pay any deposit within the statutory cooling-off period?

If you can answer yes to any of these, then you may have a valid case. For further information on this or any other subject on Inside Timeshare, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Links to past articles

2016

https://insidetimeshare.com/supreme-court-rulings-simply-explained/

2018

https://insidetimeshare.com/spanish-timeshare-laws-simply-explained/

2020

https://insidetimeshare.com/spanish-legal-history-the-story-of-the-supreme-court-rulings/

Links to early CLA Supreme Court cases

https://canarianlegalalliance.com/?s=supreme+court+2016

https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/supremo-condena-empresa-variante-timesharing_1_1160134.html

https://insidetimeshare.com/supreme-court-rules-silverpoint-twice-one-week/

Start the Week: News From The Courts & MacDonald Resorts Are Still At It!

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, today we begin with the news of the latest two cases to come from the courts, the first is against Marriott and the second is a guaranteed bank payment from Anfi. Going back to an old story of Mrs B and her battle with MacDonald Resorts, a story we covered for many years and published the final chapter on 5 November, well, it would seem that MacDonalds is using the same tactics against others. According to several enquiries received recently, the County Courts are going to be busy with cases being brought against members by MacDonalds “bloodhounds” the law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn. This is one of the most despicable timeshare operators anywhere in the world as you, our readers, already know from the long-running saga of Mrs B. But first on with the court news.

On Thursday last week, Canarian Legal Alliance released the result for a case at the Court of First Instance Number 4 of Marbella.

The case was brought on behalf of a German client against Marriott Vacation Club, once again the client’s contract was declared null and void with the court ordering the return of 13,392€ plus a further 21,600€ in respect of the taking of deposits illegally within the statutory cooling-off period. The courts are consistently awarding double the amount for these illegal payments as laid down by the rulings of the Supreme Court.

The total amount the client will now receive is 34,991€ plus legal interest.

In this particular trial, the presiding Judge made specific reference to the very first and groundbreaking ruling in 2015, by Canarian Legal Alliance. It was this ruling in the case of Tove Grimsbo versus Anfi, that confirmed the Timeshare Law 42/98.

In this ruling, it was confirmed that “floating weeks” (which includes points systems) are illegal, that contracts “in perpetuity” (over the maximum 50 years allowed) and the taking of any payment within the statutory cooling-off period are illegal. (See link below for the original news item).

It is clear that the Judge in this case against Marriott was following the law and the Supreme Court rulings to the letter.

The case was prepared by the Lawyers Christine Ihmann and Miguel Angel Melian Santana, with Claims Consultant Evi Richter assisting the client.

The following day yet another bank guarantee for 20,911€ was paid to the court, this is the amount awarded to the Swedish client of CLA in their case against Anfi.

The Court of First Instance Number 3 of San Bartelomé de Tirajana also declared the contract null and void following the many ruling made by the Supreme Court that contracts over the maximum 50 years duration, floating weeks and points systems are illegal along with the taking of any payments at the point of sale.

Although this bank guarantee secures the funds for the client, it is expected that Anfi will launch yet another frivolous appeal to the High Court. So until the original sentence is confirmed by the High Court, the funds will remain in the court’s account, but at least they are secured.

If they do launch another appeal, Inside Timeshare will be keeping an eye open for the result and will have another good laugh when they lose yet again!

This case was prepared and presented by the Lawyer Eva Gutierrez with Claims Consultant Michael Gadman assisting the client.

We now move to the continuing story of the practices of one of the vilest timeshare companies to be in existence, MacDonald Resorts. Our regular readers will be familiar with the long-running battle that Mrs B has had with MacDonalds over maintenance arrears on a timeshare that was “legally” transferred.

The story follows the threats from MacDonalds through various “debt collection” agencies such as Credit Network Services and to the “threats” by their “legal bloodhounds” Shepherd and Wedderburn. (See link below to the last article).

The problem as we have seen with these threats is that MacDonalds with Shepherd and Wedderburn representing them are totally intent on taking “members” to court. Inside Timeshare has been receiving enquiries from many “members” who are also facing a similar problem.

One reader has explained that they originally took over the timeshare at Lochanhully from a friend and neighbour who could no longer use or afford the timeshare membership. This was for a fixed week with an attached apartment, in other words, “real timeshare”.

When they transferred the membership into their name, they never received any notification that it had been completed, they never received any “New Member” agreement or any membership certificates. They were not even informed of any existing “exit mechanism”, not that the one allowed by MacDonalds is anything but fair!

As far as our reader was concerned they never received any paperwork to confirm their ownership, then when they received a letter telling them that MacDonalds had now moved over to the “points” system. This was a system which was wholeheartedly endorsed by Harry Taylor the then CEO of TATOC and recipient of funds from MacDonalds.

Our reader responded that they were not interested in changing to the points system and demanded that his “ownership/membership” be relinquished.

Since then they do not recall ever receiving any demands for the annual maintenance bill and have never paid anything since. Unfortunately, they mistook the lack of communication from MacDonalds as a sign that they had indeed relinquished their timeshare. They are now locked into a timeshare they cannot get out of and are now being taken to court for the arrears.

In our second case of MacDonald Resorts, this new reader is now being taken to court for arrears and their story is very similar.

They purchased a fixed week with an attached apartment at Elmers Court, which was used and enjoyed as they were guaranteed their week each and every year. Unfortunately, they suffered the same fate as every other owner, they were forced to accept the “new points” system introduced by MacDonald’s and as we have said endorsed by Harry Taylor.

Once again our readers told MacDonalds that they did not want the points and would hand back their timeshare. Once again nothing was heard from MacDonalds until recently, the same tactics are being employed by MacDonalds, intimidation and threats by their“legal Bloodhounds Shepherd and Wedderburn”.

When will the authorities begin to clamp down on the likes of MacDonald Resorts, using every means of intimidation to ensure that they do not lose members but keep cashing in their extortionate maintenance fees for timeshare people don’t want and are unable to use.

We also suspect that the vast majority of “members” of MacDonald’s are all in their latter years of life, their circumstances have changed, they are probably on pensions and do not have the funds they once had. They are more than likely unable to travel and their own children and in some cases grandchildren don’t want the timeshare. Yet they are locked in with no real way of exiting.

We also know that MacDonalds is not in a very good financial situation, it is believed that they are selling off some of their hotels and we suspect that the latest increase in the number of “members” being threatened with court, is in our opinion just a way to ensure they have an income.

In other words, it is pure greed on the part of MacDonalds Resorts, “to hell with the members they only supply us with the money!”

https://insidetimeshare.com/mrs-b-v-macdonald-resorts-the-battle-is-won-but-the-war-continues/

If you are also being threatened by MacDonald Resorts, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, please use our contact page and we will get back to you.

Are you wanting to be rid of your timeshare, if so and you want to find out what your legal rights and options are then please get in touch by using our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you?