What to do if things go wrong with your lawyer

If you have doubts about your Spanish lawyer, you have the right to change to another lawyer at any time.

To do this you should send a letter or fax informing your lawyer of your decision, and giving instructions to pass your file to your new lawyer by a certain date.

If your instructions are ignored you should send an ultimatum to your former lawyer threatening to complain to the local lawyers association, which will be a branch of the Spanish law society (colegio de abogados), and then do so in the last resort.

How to lodge a complaint against your Spanish lawyer / solicitor / attorney

First of all, confirm that your lawyer was actually an abogado qualified and registered to practise law in Spain, rather than some sort of para-legal, or fake professional, taking you for a ride (it happens more often that you might think).

All bona fide lawyers should make their collegiate number or numero de colegiado prominently available in all communication, for example in the footer of all emails. Find this number (or demand to know it) then look them up in the national database of certified lawyers in the Censo de Letrados online database using their name, surname, collegiate number, and the Spanish province where they practise. If you don’t have all the information above you can do a partial search as see if you can find them in the results.

Once you have confirmed their professional status as a certified Spanish lawyer registered with one of the provincial lawyers associations, get in touch with that association and ask how their complaints procedure works, then follow that procedure, which might differ from one association to another in small ways. Make sure you have paperwork to back up your complaint.

How do you find the contact details of the relevant association? Easy, just search Google.es using the province and college of lawyers in Spain. So, for example, to find the contact details of the Malaga Bar Association, just search Google.es for ‘Colegio de abogados Malaga’, though Google will also probably given you the right results if you simply search for ‘Malaga Bar Association’ or ‘Malaga Law Society’ too.

The website of each provincial bar association should have its contact details in some prominent place, normally on the home page. Ring and find out how to complain. You might need the help of a Spanish speaker.

If you have proof of malpractice, you could also consider complaining to the local consumer office run by the government to protect consumer rights (search online for your local ‘defensor del consumidor’, which might be at a municipal or regional level). There are also several privately run consumer organisations that you can approach for help like the FACU and the OCU.

If you change lawyers during the purchase, you only have to pay for work provided up to that date. It is difficult to measure the work done and most likely you will just have to settle for not making any further payments.