Off-plan deposit reclaims unaffected by Catalan constitutional crisis

The Estelada flag of Catalan separatists.

The constitutional crisis in Catalonia is not an obstacle for people trying to back off-plan stage payments lost to bankrupt developers in the region.

A renegade regional administration in Catalonia declared independence from Spain in October, shortly before it was suspended by the national Government in Madrid. Does this mean that Spanish law still applies in Catalonia, and that people who lost off-plan payments to bankrupt developers in the boom years can still claim back their money from banks in the light of recent Spanish Supreme Court rulings?

“The situation has no impact whatsoever on off-plan deposit reclaims in Catalonia or Spain,” explains Luis Cuervo, head of Barcelona-based legal advisors Spanish Legal Reclaims, whose firm specialises in recovering off-plan deposits for foreign investors. “Spanish law is fully enforced in Catalonia, so people who have lost off-plan payments to developers in Catalonia can still claim back their money from the banks that handled those deposits, in keeping with the Spanish Supreme Court ruling of December 2015, and as long as their case meets the legal requirements. The political crisis has no impact on the legal system.”

Around 600,000 investors, including more than one hundred thousand British and Irish buyers, are thought to have lost all their off-plan payments to developers who went out of business during the Spanish property crisis without delivering the homes investors had paid for. A Spanish Supreme Court ruling of December 2015 allows investors to claim back their money, with legal interest, from the banks who handled their off-plan payments, as long as firm evidence is provided of payments to those banks. This is true in Catalonia and the rest of Spain.

Furthermore, the number of foreign investors who lost off-plan stage payments in Catalonia is relatively small. “Despite having our head office in Barcelona, we have seen very few examples of foreign investors who lost off-plan payments in Catalonia,” explains Cuervo. “The vast majority of the claims were are handling involve developments that were located in the Valencian Region and Andalusia, where of course Spanish law applies in its entirety, as it does in Catalonia.”

And finally, the only two Catalan banks left standing after the economic crisis – CaixaBank and Sabadell – have moved their registered offices out of Catalonia in response to the separatist drive, so there are no banks left in Catalonia to claim against.