ANFI FACES REFUNDING UP TO 13 MILLION EURO TO “TIMESHARING” CLIENTS.
THE OFFICE OF THE LAW FIRM Abogados de Extranjería BASED IN Madrid, HAS CURRENTLY MORE THAN 200 ACTIVE CLAIMS AND PREPARES ANOTHER 140.
Anfi Group, owned equally 50/50 by the heirs of the Norwegian businessman Björn Lyng and the brothers Santana Cazorla, faces in court the return of up to 13 million euros for irregularities in contracts signed by timesharing clients, the tourism business of timeshare real estate. The law firm Abogados de Extranjería, located in Madrid has currently more than 200 active Anfi client claims in court to the value of 7 million euros. In addition there are approximately 140 cases with a value of around 6 million euros, which could also be recuperated.
The flow of judgments against this tourist resort in the south of Gran Canaria has been constant in recent times. Clients from Abogados de Extranjería Madrid have already been awarded back more than 700,000 euros, due to strong court decisions, although the firm claims that this figure will only increase. This is because in some cases clients are waiting to complete the administrative process in order to actually receive their money, while others are waiting to take their case to the Provincial Court or the Supreme Court due to appeals on first and second instance rulings filed by Anfi.
March 2015 was key for future judicial proceedings against business models followed by timeshare operators such as Anfi. From the 140 favorable sentences obtained by Abogados de Extranjería Madrid, half of them have been issued in March 2015, as it was in this month that the Supreme Court ruled on one of the most controversial aspects of timeshare contracts: the selling of the perpetuity clause (a lifetime contract). This was done following a ruling, which ordered Anfi Group to refund Norwegian clients, who had signed two perpetuity contracts in 2000 and 2001, up to 40,000 euros. The ruling was set some years after the Law 42/1998 was introduced, which mandates the selling of timeshare to be between 3 to 50 years only.
From this moment on, the Civil Chamber of the Spanish High Court is acting on clear guidance from the higher court-declaring perpetuity contracts illegal, rejecting all arguments made by Anfi. The law firm Abogados de Extranjería Madrid explains that this creates an increasingly extensive jurisprudence in favour of timeshare consumers, and in turn has made these companies reluctant when it comes to appealing, since these companies foresee the process becoming increasingly swift both in terms of decision making and the resultants payments.
There appears to be unanimity between judges regarding the illegality of taking a deposit in the extended three month cooling of period. The Supreme Court has also pronounced on a number of occasion in this regard and has reaffirmed that these deposit takings are prohibited even when you pay through a third party and not directly to the timeshare companies. However, although consumers are recovering these deposits, the judges are not including the fact that these companies must repay the amount in double, as stated under the law as provided for in Article 11 of Law 42/1998.
But there´s more! The highest court in Spain has recently notified Abogados de Extranjería Madrid about the first firm ruling against Anfi regarding the selling of the floating system, which sells weeks without an apartment number or a specified calendar week. The Supreme Court has declared Anfi`s contract null, having found the contract did not contain the basic legal requirements since it fails to define the purpose of the purchase and its obligations. The judgment relates to both Anfi floating system as well as other similar schemes with other timeshare companies who had already been condemned by the Supreme Court, despite Mr. Lyng´s Company continuing to claim that it was not specific to Anfi.
The law firm Abogados de Extranjería Madrid explains that the floating system aims to provide flexibility to customers so they are able to take their holiday at a time convenient to them without having any problems with reservations. The reality is that this system does not guarantee the availability of apartments. “ They have to make reservations 12 to 18 months in advance and may still not get what they want” states the law firm, adding that the owners also claim a lack of information when signing the contracts, “aggressive sales techniques” or “deception”, referring to the alleged increase in the value of the timeshare and the possibility of resales.
Approximately three out of four customers from Abogados de Extranjería Madrid are of British nationality. In the cases of owners of timeshare linked to Anfi Group, one of every three is Scandinavian. Most of the claims range between 25,000 and 40,000 euros, sources indicate.
The avalanche of judgments against timeshare companies led the Canary Islands Ombudsman, Jerónimo Saavedra, to express his concern about “the situation of the legal uncertainty between the owners” and the “serious consequences ” that will come to the public finance, by declaring these contracts null.
Of the 302 timeshare resorts that exist in Spain, 128 are in the Canaries. In total there are about 715,000 holders of Spanish timeshare, of which approximately 623,000 are foreigners.