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Home > Newsletter

spainwide business

News Briefs March 2011

Change in Rules Governing Mortgages

Change in Rules Governing Mortgages

Good news for those affected by the so-called "Clausula suelo" in Spain. Thse clauses which limit the the minimum applicable interest rate in mortgage loans have, for the first time, been declared abusive by a Spanish court. They have been the subject of much contraversy over the past few years as the official bank interest rates or Euribor have plummeted to just over 2% whereas many of these clauses will fix a minimum rate of well over 3%.

The decision was made in a Seville court in favour of the Association of Users of Banking Services (AUSBANC) and against a number of banking entitities currently applying this abusive clause. The decision requires that these entities eliminate the clause from all existing morttgage agreements and refrain from using it in the future. It is hoped that any other banks that continue to use this clause will cease to do so in the light of the decision and the general negative publicity it has earned.

Those who have been affected by the abusive clause can now start to reclaim amounts paid in excess. In some cases, it is calculated that, thanks to this decision, some mortgage payments will fall by up to 40% per month.

More Consumer Complaints in 2010

More Consumer Compaints in 2010

The Spanish consumer organisation OCU has published its figures for 2010 indicating that in that year they received a total of 388,620 consumer complaints. This represents a remarkable 22% increase on the figures for 2009. This clearly shows that Spanish consumers, more mindful than ever of their rights are beginning to follow their Northern European nieghbours in insisting on a higher quality of service and, indeed, are more willing to take steps when they feel that this quality is not being provided.

Amongst other channels offered by the OCU to resolve consumer conflicts, most noticably the mediation or arbitration option (where the organisation will intervene between the buyer and seller) has gathered considerable ground, the number of cases filed having risen by 55% over the course of the last year.

The sectors that have received the most complaints have been air transport (49% increase), insurance (37%), telecommunications (27% increase), housing (20% increase) and banking (14% increase). It should also be ntoed that non-consumer complaints have also risen considerably over the past year seeing a rise of 52% in employement-related compaints and 33% in tax-related matters.

Iberia and Credit Cards

Iberia and Credit Cards

A court in Germany has recently sentenced Iberia Airlines to pay an indemnity to a passenger for forcing him to buy another plane ticket from the one he had purchased online because he was not carrying the credit card with which he had made the purchase. It was considered that a credit card is not a necessary travel document but merely a means of payment. This decision has been taken against the standard practice of this airline amongst others of including the obligation to present the credit card when you check in and request the boarding pass. It is hoped that airlines will be taken to task in other areas that from a consumer point of view could be considered abusive (e.g. extra changes for paying with certain kinds of credit cards).

Online Admin

Online Admin

In line with the rest of Europe, Spain is adopting measures that will allow for the processing of an ever-increasing number of administrative proceudres online. Over the past few years, this has largely meant tax and social security matters requiring the end user to make an intial one-off application for an electronic signature or ID. The Ministery of Justice has now followed suit and it is now possible for the user ro process the following internet applications:

  • Applications for Criminal Certificates (Certificados de Antecedentes Penales)
  • Applications to check wills and testaments (Actos de Ultima Voluntad)
  • Applications to check life assurance policies (Seguros de cobertura de fallecimiento

Once again, the only requirement is that you are in possession of any of the official digital signatures or OD's currently avaible in Spain and that you pay the necessary charges on making the application through their website (www.mjusticia.es).