A new High Court judgement means that UK residents who believe they have been ripped off buying property in Spain, in part due to a deficient service by lawyers in Spain acting on their behalf, can now sue those lawyers in English courts, so long as the lawyers “involved in the process actively marketed and sold their professional services to consumers in the UK.” This is important news for UK residents who have been let down by Spanish lawyers when buying property in Spain.
The case was brought by Mr and Mrs Adams, a British couple who had bought a property on a development in Alicante, Spain. After more than ten years, they found their property – along with others – was still subject to the mortgage left on it by the builder and that the title was not assigned to them.
The Adams brought their case to London’s High Court against the Spanish law firm that acted for them and the UK company that acted as their agents.
The Spanish lawyers challenged the jurisdiction of the London courts to hear the claim, arguing that cases relating to Spanish properties could only be heard in the Spanish courts.
If a party involved in the process actively marketed and sold their professional services to consumers in the UK, then EU consumer regulations allow the buyer to bring proceedings in their ‘home’ courts, rather than in the courts where the property was bought.
The Adams had received letters and marketing material in English from the lawyers acting on their behalf. Further, the Spanish lawyers’ website had pages written in English aimed at British homebuyers.
The High Court deemed this sufficient to allow the claimants to sue the Spanish lawyers in the UK.