A recent note from the Consumer Ministry stated that 21 January next year is the time limit for claims for mortgage expenses. However, the move has met with strong opposition from legal experts and consumer rights defenders, all of which claim the Ministry is wrong. In this blog article, we take a look at the controversy and state our position in the matter.
Five years since 2016
At the beginning of December, the Ministry published a statement that mortgage holders have until 21 January 2021 to claim for mortgage expenses. These include charges made by banks for handling paperwork, signing and registering mortgage deeds, opening fees, and stamp duty.
According to the Ministry, mortgage holders must claim for these by 21 January next year. However, several legal issues arise from the statement, and many legal experts believe that the information is erroneous and misleading.
Different time limits
The Ministry has counted five years since a Supreme Court decision in January 2015. However, as jurists point out, the criteria for the date is unclear. Different courts in Spain have interpreted the final date differently, with few coinciding with the Ministry.
Prominent consumer lawyers emphasise that there are up to five different interpretations of the time limit including:
- No time limit when an abusive clause is declared null and void. The consumer may, therefore claim at any point in the future.
- 15 years’ limit from a Supreme Court ruling in December 2015, bringing the final deadline to 2030.
- 5 years’ limit from a sentence in January 2019 (final deadline January 2024).
- 5 years’ from a court sentence ruling that the clause is null and void.
Need to know: What is an abusive clause in a mortgage contract?
We‘ve counted to 28 possibilities – check out abusive clauses in Spanish mortgages. And if you believe that your mortgage contract contains one or more of them, get in touch.
Knowledge of an abusive clause
One of the main arguments against imposing a time limit on claims against abusive clauses comes in the consumer’s Knowledge. Many prominent jurists make the point that a consumer cannot claim against something they do not know about.
They argue that to impose a time limit, the court must know beyond a reasonable doubt that the consumer knew or could have known about the abusive clause.
As recent legislation has shown, mortgage holders are frequently unaware that their contract contains such clauses. Spanish banks have in the past taken advantage of consumers and included abusive clauses.
Fortunately, courts have sided with mortgage holders in the recent past. Several landmark sentences have opened the doors for consumers to claim expenses and refunds for exorbitant interest.
The European Court of Justice ruled in July this year that consumers have the right to claim when their contracts contain abusive clauses. The Spanish Supreme Court has yet to assume this sentence, however, and as a result, courts in Spain have made different rulings.
From our stance of staunch defenders of consumer rights, Costaluz Lawyers believes that there should be no time limit imposed on claims against abusive clauses. We firmly side with the jurists who take the view that when a clause is declared null and void, the consumer has no deadline for initiating proceedings for a refund.
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At Costaluz Lawyers, we are experts in defending consumer rights against Spanish banks, particularly abusive mortgage clauses. Fill in the form below for a free consultation with our friendly team to find out whether you are entitled to a refund.