Re: Dinner Party Lawyers


Hi Charlie,

Thanks for the nice reply. I posted a reply last night but it seems to have vanished in the ether, a bit like some poor souls’ deposits!

The issues raised yesterday are pretty complex as they go right to the heart of the cultural differences between the south and the north of Europe. As a generality, the Med rim countries have a much more laissez faire attitude to authority. For many, rules are to be ignored and if the administration comes knocking they take the view that there’s always a way to sort things out. Those of us from northern climes tend to observe the rules even though we might find them distasteful. This diametrically opposed view of how to approach life is possibly the major source of problems for extranjeros looking to adapt to a new life here ( it could be Italy or Greece as well).

I am sure you know Spaniards who own a little parcela in the campo. The land is of course zoned for rural use. For a Spaniard ownership takes precedence over any bothersome rules about zoning and planning permits. “Hombre, it’s my land, I’m going to build a casita here and if there’s a problem my cousin’s cousin works in the Town Hall and everything will be worked out in my favour”.

I don’t believe many of us would try that back in the UK. Someone recently built a house within a barn in a protected area in the south of England. He was quckly rumbled and now has to demolish the property.

A couple of years ago I nearly bought a small plot here. It had a store which could be used as a place to “sleepover” but there were absolutely no rights to extend it. I decided not to buy the plot. It was purchased by a local who promptly demolished the store and replaced it with a small house. All completely illegal and visible to the whole pueblo. Has anything happened? Of course not! If I had done the same I think the local administration might have reacted differently.

Recently I had an opportunity to speak to the boss of our planning department. I asked him how it was possible to build 35,000 illegal houses in Chiclana without the Town Hall lifting a finger in protest. He didn’t answer. He didn’t even try to answer. He didn’t seem the slightest bit offended. It was as if there was a resigned acceptance to the utter failure of the planning system. What I didn’t follow up with was any observation re Chiclana being a PSOE fiefdom and how it might just suit the Ayuntamiento to turn a blind eye. Not disimilar from the position of the Junta vis a vis Marbella. Better to have Gil in power than their eternal enemy the PP.

I think your observations re the transition from a dictatorship to a constitutional monarchy are valid. The change in Spanish society over the last 30 plus years has been enormous. In a very short period of time money and opportunity have become available to the masses. As much of the growth has been fueled in the construction sector it is hardly surprising that those of less upstanding morals have seen the chance to get rich quick.Out of even handedness it must be said that many of of our own countrymen have taken full advantage of the situation. All the companies who call themselves “something” International often being the worst examples.

None of these jottings can alleviate the pain of those who have been cheated but it is interesting to have an exchange of views on the cultural differences. A good thread.