Property Disputes

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice for property problems abroad
We provide a comprehensive service that will cover every aspect of your case, from initial consultation through to conclusion - and appeal should that prove necessary.
 

Conveyancing

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice about buying a property in Spain, France and Portugal
One of the most common misconceptions people tend to have when buying a property abroad is a belief that things will follow a similar path as buying a property at home.

Mortgage Problems

Overseas property lawyers based in Hertfordshire, providing advice related to investments in property and land overseas
Whatever the circumstances many people now find that they are struggling to pay their mortgages on a month to month basis and may even be in arrears.
 

Foreign Wills 

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice related to investments in property and land overseas
By making a foreign Will you can ensure that the right people inherit from you and do so in the most tax advantageous way.  If you don’t leave a foreign Will then the law sets out who inherits from you

Timeshare

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice related to investments in property and land overseas
Timeshare is concept that has been around for many decades. The principle is quite simple – instead of buying a whole property abroad you simply buy a share in that property 

Other Services

A legal services company based in Hertfordshire, providing advice related to investments in property and land overseas
Under our Legal Services, you can find further information about our other services. These include timeshare, wills, inheritance, starting a business abroad and obtaining a visa

Latest News

Why Timeshare maintenance fees increase 01.12.2016
Many years ago when Timeshare first appeared as a concept the attraction was quite simple – you owned/purchased a single week in an apartment (often called a “unit”) in a resort and this worked out significantly cheaper than the cost of buying that whole apartment. And one of the major selling points for Timeshare resorts and for prospective Timeshare purchasers was the manageable ongoing costs of Timeshare ownership. Maintenance costs would of course work out significantly cheaper for one week than the maintenance cost of the whole apartment as they would be shared out across the owners of all the weeks. As a result Timeshare was conceived and sold as the perfect low cost alternative to buying a whole property.
 
Unfortunately maintenance fees (sometimes called “management fees”) at Timeshare resorts have increased substantially for most people over the years of their ownership. The vast majority of owners who contact us were originally paying less than £100 per week for maintenance at the time of their purchase yet are now paying in excess of £500 per week for that same maintenance.
 
So, why have maintenance fees increased so much. There can be a number of different reasons depending on the resort;
 
  1. Maintenance fees were kept artificially low at the beginning of a new resort in order to encourage prospective Timeshare owners to sign up and buy. A new resort requires less maintenance than an established resort and therefore maintenance fees could be kept to an attractive level in order not to scare potential buyers. The Timeshare resort know these fees will have to gradually increase over time but believed by then the individual owners would have no choice but to pay.
     
  2. The resort is too slow in increasing the management fees over time. The resort requires constant updating and any unexpected or significant expense that hasn’t been planned for can create a large financial hole that needs to be filled.
     
  3. The resort simply gets its calculations wrong. Some resorts have vastly underestimated the ongoing costs of the resort or have not anticipated a particular problem that has cost much more than it should to remedy. When these costs are identified the individual owners are invariably targeted; and maintenance fees increase to meet this demand.
     
  4. The maintenance fees are not spent on maintenance at all and are payed out of the management company for the benefit of the owners of that company by way of large staff costs. And as a result the resort gradually declines in terms of maintenance.
     
  5. Owners themselves have inadvertently contributed to the increasing costs. As ongoing resort costs have increased and owners decide not to use their Timeshare, they are of course less inclined to pay the maintenance fees. As fewer people pay on time - or at all - the management company is forced to allocate money away from the upkeep of the resort and spends more on administration costs and legal fees pursuing the non-paying owners.
     
  6. In many cases however it is simply a case of the management company being greedy. Resorts have realised they can not only make a lot of money from selling the timeshare in the first place but can generate a steady and ever growing profit every year from providing the maintenance of the resort. In order to exercise this financial control the resort will normally “keep back” a certain number of weeks supposedly for its own use, and as such it can normally control the AGM (Annual General Meeting) thus voting in their own maintenance company to carry on with the contract. 
All of the reasons above – and many more – have left Timeshare owners facing potential hardship in meeting their financial obligations, and as a result these owners have increasingly found themselves the target of aggressive resort owners chasing annual fees.
Typically, the Timeshare resorts will employ the services of UK debt collection agencies to vigorously pursue the non-paying owners.
If you have been contacted by a debt collection agency regarding non –payment of fees or are encountering a problem with a Timeshare in Spain or Portugal and would like to speak to a UK based solicitor who has been dealing with timeshare for over 20 years then you can contact our timeshare team

Disclaimer – International legal issues are a complex area of law and this information is no substitute for independent legal advice on an individual basis taking into consideration your personal circumstances and legal requirements. This information is provided to provide general information only and was correct at the time of publishing. The legal position in relation to international transactions can change frequently and this page may not have been updated following any changes in the law. You should therefore not rely on this information and should seek legal advice in relation to your personal circumstances.
 
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Interim court order issued by District Court of Nicosia, Cyprus 25.11.2016
The Nicosia District Court recently granted an interim order for the freezing of a borrower’s installments in Swiss Francs (CHF).

The lawsuit was filed by a borrower and a guarantor and concerned a loan which was granted back in 2007, the installments of which were paid without any delay until May 2015 when the borrower realized that the installments were increasing instead of decreasing.

One of the objectives of the borrower was to declare the loan null and void as a result of the failures of the lending bank; namely the bank’s failures to extensively warn the borrower regarding the risks associated with a foreign currency loan.

The Court concluded that the principle of transparency was undermined since the calculation of the interest rate in a foreign currency loan was different to that which is calculated based on the Euribor and which applies to Euros, and a as a result the borrower did not have clear calculations regarding the repayment of his loan. 
 
Effectively what the Judge said was that the terms and conditions of the Swiss Franc Loan were ambiguous, not clear and were not enabling the borrower to calculate the actual outstanding amounts, the loan installments and the final amount to be paid.

What is more important however is the fact that the Judge had adopted the recent decision of the European Court of Justice (C-26/13, Árpád Kásler and Hajnalka Káslerné Rábai vs. OTP Jelzálogbank Zrt) in which the Court had ruled that “the contract should set out transparently the specific functioning of the mechanism of conversion for the foreign currency to which the relevant term refers and the relationship between that mechanism and that provided for by other contractual terms relating to the advance of the loan, so that that consumer is in a position to evaluate, on the basis of clear, intelligible criteria, the economic consequences for him which derive from it.”

Finally it is worth noting that the interim order was issued on the grounds that the borrower has very good prospects to be successful in his main claim when it comes before the Court.

If you are encountering any issues with a Swiss Franc Loan in Cyprus, or are unsure of your legal options, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a confidential no-obligation no cost initial discussion.
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How should one act when served with documents related to Cyprus Courts? 10.11.2016
The above is a question that more often than not begs for an answer. It has become a frequent occasion for non-Cypriots (mainly U.K. citizens) to be served with documents issued out of the Registry of a Court in Cyprus. Should one ignore them or should he or she take any steps in the context of the Court proceedings before the Cyprus Courts?

At the outset it should be pointed out that the issue of jurisdiction of the Cyprus Court out of which the documentation has been issued does not arise, at least at the initial stage. The Plaintiff - usually a Bank in Cyprus - has already “brought” the person served before the Court and the question at the initial stage is what to do in view of the receipt of the documents.

To ignore them is very dangerous. This in effect means that the Plaintiff - say the Bank – will proceed on its own in Court, secure a judgment in its favour and then, through the use of the relevant EU Directive, have it registered in the Country were the Defendant lives - say the U.K and have the judgment executed as a normal U.K. judgment against the property -movable and immovable- of the judgment debtor.

Having “done away” with the option of ignoring the Court documentation what is the correct step to take? In my opinion a local Cyprus Lawyer must immediately be instructed in order to file a Notice of Appearance in Court in the proceedings in relation to which the Defendant was served. This means that the Plaintiff will no longer be able to proceed on his own and through his or her Lawyer the Defendant will be able to defend the Plaintiff’s claim.

Coming back to the Notice of Appearance I have noticed that there is a tendency for this to be qualified i.e. filed under protest while at the same time the Defendant contests the jurisdiction of the Cyprus Court to adjudicate upon the Bank’s claim against him (the alternative would be for the Notice of Appearance to be without any qualification in which case the jurisdiction of the Court is not contested).

The proper course to follow has been shown in a relatively recent judgment of a Court in Cyprus which was issued on the 31/1/2013. In that case the Defendants filed a qualified Notice of Appearance (i.e. under protest) and contested the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the claim of the Bank against them. The Court with a detailed and considered judgment “running” to 16 pages rejected the objection and decided that it had jurisdiction to hear the case filed by the Bank against the Defendants. The latter proceeded to file their defence as they would have done had they not filed a qualified Notice of Appearance. With one important detail though. They incurred unnecessary legal fees in contesting the jurisdiction of the Cyprus Court.

The above article has been provided by Mr. Christos Triantafyllides, Barrister, and Lead Council for Judicare in Cyprus.

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