Spain. Bank Seizure of UK Assets

Michael WalshArticle Submitted by Mike Walsh.

When Jackie Greenwood and her husband bought their apartment in 2002 the mortgage was an affordable €500pm. Things change, as they do, and the mortgage increased to €1,500pm. Powerless to get their licence of habitation and unable to sell they were in between a rock and a hard place.

They decamped to the UK from where they met some of their mortgage obligations but fell short of the agreed amounts.

Unable to retrieve their mail it was only in December 2010 they learnt they had their habitation licence; or rather their bank did. The bank also had their home and their abandoned belongings; it had been repossessed. £85,000 of their hard-earned had evaporated.

Jean wanted to know if the bank could add to their misery in making up the shortfall by making a claim on the couple’s UK property. Maria Luisa de Castro of explains that all is not lost by any means. She says that seizing property in the UK is not quite the walk in the park Spanish creditors would like it to be.

Basically it means the agreement of the debtor releasing their assets wherever they are to settle outstanding claims in Spain. The procedure can be difficult and lengthy with enough caveats to make a bank think twice.

Maria thinks Jean Greenwood and her husband have a strong case and history is on Maria’s side. She has heard of only one successful case so far and that was possibly one that unnecessarily slipped through a complex net of judicial procedures.

Before UK assets can be seized, an expensive legal process must be followed in Spain and the UK. As UK courts are reluctant to act in a bank’s favour this will weigh heavily on the bank’s considerations. The costs, especially if an appeal is made, far exceed the sums demanded.

Anyone whose assets are threatened by repossession should offer the Bank in advance a Dación en Pago. This should include legal grounds for the Dación whilst setting out one’s financial situation. This of course necessitates the services of a good lawyer but in respect of returns and savings it is the wisest way to go.


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