The fact is that there has been a money transfer and the party that wishes to keep this sum will have to demonstrate why is it legitimate to keep it. If there is no reason, then both parties must revert whatever they have received as a contract “never existed”.
With regards to your betting, believe or not, things do not work that way.
First of all, I said I believe not necessarily would this have to go to Court. With regards to fees, you can download the Official Scale fees of the Law School in Alicante (they are all quite similar) and this will show you that a small presentation in Court can cost just 156 euros. Obviously it will depend on the amount of the claim but, as a general rule, fees should never exceed 10% of the claim.
You can download here: http://www.icav.es/paginas.php?idpag=131
Re verbal contracts, of course they exist. But one has to proove its existance if one wants to keep the deposit. I am not saying he has won the case because I don’t know if there are other evidences against him; but from the information provided I do not see a legal reason why the seller can keep a deposit for a transaction that cannot be proven.
Re loosing money in Spain, let me just say that in my experience, many times people follow the wrong advice (from agents, from Lawyers that are not impartial, etc) and this ends being a problem. Many times these situations can be corrected and many times is too late. I have been working together with British for many years and have British family and I am not exactly proud how the legal system works here for foreigners – being this the main reason why I participate in this and other forums.
Re the Court fee, I am not sure if you have the correct information. This normally represents a very low amount (around 250 euro for this 10k claim).
You can download it here: http://www.procuradores-coruna.com/docftp/arancel2003.pdf
The scale at the beggining show what Court fee should be on a standard claim, according to the amount of the claim.
Finally, what I understand is cruel and callous is to refer to meetings in Cortijos and clandestine meetings. In my years of experience I have never seen or heard of such a thing except for those in the news (Marbella scandal, for example) which, of course, are the exception.
I am not trying to unreallistically raise any expectation; all I am doing is offering help and an opportunity which in my understanding may ne worth a try. That’s all.