Legal tip 93. More legal safety for Consumers
28 May 2009
Published at 10:44 Comments (0)
The Government has submitted to the Parliament a Bill through which consumers will see increased security to malpractice. Specifically, Law 3 / 1991 of January 10 on Unfair Competition, Law 34/1988 of November 11 on Publicity, Royal Legislative Decree 1 / 2007 of November 16, which approves The text of the General Law for the Protection of Consumers and Users (Consumers Act) and other laws such as Law 7 / 1996 of January 15th on Retail Trade will expand their spectrum of action, so that the "siege" to the citizen will be much restricted by the Law. More rigors in information, less glossy, impressive phrases, an uniform post-sale service of quality for each type of service and the elimination of phone spam to help consumers be freer.
The reform of legislation affecting the consumer believes that the economic behavior of an individual can be altered either by false information, or messages that even being true, can lead to error. In addition, it considers unfair and aggressive those behaviors that can significantly reduce, by harassment, coercion, force or undue influence, the freedom of choice or the behavior of consumers in relation to the good or service being offered.
The bill transposes, in turn, two European rules: Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 11th of May 2005 on unfair trade practices of companies towards consumers in the European market and the Directive 2006/114/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 12th of December 2006 concerning misleading and comparative advertising.
It will be illegal, among other ones, the following behaviors:
-The comparison of public activity, performance or the internal or external establishments to a third party when such activity relates to ends that are not similar, relevant or comparable.
-The withholding of necessary information for consumers to adopt a knowingly economic behavior.
-The transmission of information in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous way or in a non appropriate moment.
-To induce consumers to make immediate decisions on the pretext that a good or service is only available for a limited period, when it is not.
-To present rights given to consumers by law as a distinctive feature of the offer by the employer or professional.
Apart from increasing the safety of consumers, the reform seeks to give legal certainty to companies that legitimately compete in the free market against those who carry out practices that damage the good faith, lacking professional ethics; which distort the spontaneous economic behavior of consumers.
Therefore, the Project also provides a type of action to be carried out by the government. This will be realized through the promotion of codes of conduct between business and professional organizations that help to minimize the unfair advertising practices of firms and raise the level of consumer protection. In the development of these codes it may also be counted with the participation of consumer organizations. These guidelines will be in any case within the orbit of the current law, so that they can not cut rights or add guarantees not provided by enforceable legal regulations. In this sense, independent monitoring bodies will be created to ensure compliance with the commitments of the members, which should establish effective systems for resolving complaints.
Parliament reached yesterday a pact to modernize the justice
27 May 2009
Published at 18:20 Comments (0)
The Two Major Parties reached an initial agreement to modernize the justice system. The future Act would introduce the new Judicial Office, requested by the judges as the main instrument for coordinating the judiciary.
The secretary of Justice in Spain, Francisco Caamaño, reminded that, in addition, the government will invest 600 million of euros within the next three years in order to computerize the courts. Caamaño, who expects for the rest of the parties to join the initiative, thinks that the next strike of judges convoked for next 26th of June no longer makes sense now.
Partial and direct translation of new in Cinco Días, 27-05-2009 by Maria L. de Castro
Lawyers criticize organisation of Justice in Spain
27 May 2009
Published at 10:19 Comments (3)
That is what it is showed in a survey that was presented at the General Council of Lawyers last wednesday the 20th of May.
88% of lawyers in Spain believe that judicial administration is in serious crisis and that it’s time for a State Pact to help to regenerate Justice. The survey gathers the opinion of 5243 practicing lawyers throughout Spain .
Mr.Carnicer, president of the General Council of Lawyers in Spain, stressed during the presentation that “ he has finally found the grave crisis in our administration of justice ", and that lawyers “do not discharge the liability in the courts, but in the organization of the Justice," and considered also relevant the fact that a large majority of respondents believe that governments, regardless the sign they are, come to justice "for manipulating it but not to remedy its ills."
Asked about the politicization of the CGPJ ( General Council of Judicial Power) , the president of the National Law Society considered that all the Councils to the present have been heavily politicized, and members have acted along following partisan criteria. "Their role is to defend judicial independence, and if it is attached to a political party, public resources for the administration of Justice can not be handled independently. However, he said "I see different signs in this new Council, also worrying about corporate signs, but less in terms of party political signs”
Carnicer noted that in his view, the main problem of the General Council of Judicial Power is "composition" ."The Administration of Justice is something which belongs to citizens and therefore is of general interest, so the CGPJ should be composed of great advisors, regardless their profession," with a " increased number of those professionals who have more daily contact with the Administration of Justice, namely the lawyers. “
For his part, Juan Jose Toharia, director of the company which made the survey, stressed that this is an "unprecedented survey” due to his magnitude and the fact of being made by assessing jurisdiction to jurisdiction and territory to territory, which has produces a detailed map of the real situation.
He also underlined the part of the study focused on new technologies, and asked to value "the effort that lawyers are doing to modernization, which contrasts with the gap of the Administration of Justice regarding new technologies," and that new technologies are “highly appreciated by lawyers."
Free Translation by Maria de Castro of spanish article in Noticias Juridicas
Cadiz OldTown by Martin Cabo at Choco Planet at Flickr.com
Legal tip 92. Questions and answers on community of owners. Part 5
26 May 2009
Published at 10:22 Comments (4)
33. Do I need to sign a Power of Attorney for someone to attend a General Meeting on my behalf? No, you do not, just an authorisation is needed.
34. What if the apartment belongs to me and my brothers and sisters? Do we all need to attend? No, you do not. Just name a representative and have him/her going to the party.
35. Are owners in default of Community fees allowed to vote? No, they cannot vote, but they can deliberate. The minutes of the meeting need to mention those private owners who have been deprived of their right to vote, their votes will not be taken into account to reach the necessary majority for agreements. The announcement must contain a list of the owners who are not up-to-date with payments to the Community and a warning of their deprivation of the right to vote.
36. Why should we meet once a year obligatorily? The yearly obligation is for approval of budgets and accounts (it is good to take a look once a year ) Of course any other matter can be added to the agenda, by proposal of the President or of any member. To do so, the owner must present a document, identifying those subjects considered of general interest to the President, who must include them in the order of the day of the following meeting to be celebrated.
37. How many people are needed to convoke an extraordinary meeting?
A quarter of the owners or a number of them which, at least, represents 25% of the community.
38. Can we (more than 25% of owners) call the meeting? The call needs to be made by the President and, just in his absence, by the promoters of the meeting, by making a list of the subjects to be discussed and by choosing date and time to be held in first and in second call.
39. What if he refuses to call it? Owners can convoke and hold it, but it is needed the 100% of the owners.
40. How many of us need to attend to reach the legal quorum? 50% +1 of owners who represent 50%+1 of the shares (majority), for the first call. No specific quorum is needed for the second call.
41. Another trip to Spain for second call due to lack of quorum: my goodness!? No, you do not need to gather in a different day, just half an hour later, same place is fine. Generally, both calls are included in the same citation.
42. The president called me yesterday to announce there was a General Ordinary meeting today, he said to me he has forgotten to include me in the call for the General Meeting…. what should I do?
You can attend out of your good will, but you can also oppose the call of the General meeting as it has not been legally announced to all parties. The citation for the annual General Meeting must be done at least 6 days in advance and, in case of extraordinary meetings, the sooner for all the interested parties to know about it.
Legal tip 91: Some advice for refurbishments
25 May 2009
Published at 09:55 Comments (0)
We refurbished the attic floor of a building in order to have the new Costaluz Lawyers office last year, here you have got some tips you may find useful:
Choosing the workers:
- Choose a professional, legally trading company, “ jack of all trades” may seem cheaper initially but… as the Spanish saying says “ Cheap turns expensive” ( lo barato sale caro: Choosing a product or a service just because of a low price is not a good deal)
- Have the Identity number: Identity card or Tax Number if a self-employed or NIF (Tax identification number) if a company.
- Check they have got professional liability insurance.
- Get three or four budgets. The best way to find the better price is the all known “ busque y compare” ( look for and compare).
- Safest budgets are:
- detailed: materials, labour price…For reference and information: ask for invoices of materials bought by the worker.
- As an advanced amount, do not pay more than 50 % of the budget.
- Final payment:
- Do not pay 100% of the work until the works have been completely finished. We advise to pay the final amount (around 15- 20%) once every detail has been checked and found OK.
- Ask for a written guarantee of works at the end of the works.
- Needs to be according to the the budget ( that is what they are for!). Know that payment on variations that have not been duly notified, can be refused.
- Ask for VAT invoices, dated, stamped and signed by both parties. Without them, there is no possibility of claim.
View from Castellar Castle ( Castellar.Cadiz) by Nukamari at Flickr.com
Legal tip 90. Who to hire? Better if she/he has a family
21 May 2009
Published at 10:15 Comments (0)
Now, hiring someone with family charges is a plus:
The Government has approved of new tax allowances on Social Security fees for businessmen who offer indefinite contracts to unemployed workers with family responsibilities between the beginning of December 2008 and the 31 December 2010. The amount of the allowance is of €125 in their Social Security fee (1,500 Euros/per year).
Currently in force: it was approved of by virtue of Royal Decree 1975/2008, dated 28 November, on urgent measures for economy, taxes, employment and access to housing, published in the Official Gazette of the Spanish State on 2 December 2008 (www.boe.es/boe/dias/2008/12/02/pdfs/A48135-48142.pdf).
Puerta de Jerez ( Tarifa) by Chodaboy at Flickr.com
Legal tip 89. Want to renove your B&B in Spain?
20 May 2009
Published at 10:00 Comments (0)
There is an ICO (Official Credit Institute) line which finances small and medium size enterprises in the tourism sector (90% of an investment of up to 1 million Euros at 1.5%, to be returned in up to 12 years).
The funds are aimed to challenge and support renewal and refurbishment of infrastructures for tourism. This financing line amounts to 400 million Euros for 2009.
Preferential actions within the Tourism Renove PLan:
- Increasing of the quality and added value of products
- Improving the sustainability of the different premises (energy saving)
- Preserving and enhancing the environment
- Implementing quality systems
- Improving accessibility
- Implementing new technologies.
Destinated to hotels, boarding houses for tourists, restaurants, travel agencies and other related or complementary.
It will remain in force until next 31 December 2009 or until the funding is over.
Telephone no.: 901 50 1002
By Maria L. de Castro
Legal tip 88. Ten years insurance to cover your building deffects
19 May 2009
Published at 10:04 Comments (0)
According to the LOE (General Building Act) the ten years insurance plan for building companies guarantees for ten years all damages caused by faults or defects in construction which directly affect the resistance of the building.
The developer is the policyholder and is obliged by law to sign a ten years insurance plan. The developer is also the assured party, and following the sale of the home, buyers become the beneficiaries of the insurance.
Individuals and companies involved in the construction process are accountable to the owners of the material damage caused to the building, provided they claim in time. Time limits for filing a claim vary depending on the importance of the fault.
a) For 10 years, of material damages caused in the building due to defects or vices that affect the foundations, supports, beams, floor structure, charging wall or another structural elements, that directly compromise the mechanic resistance and the stability of the building.
b) For 3 years, of material damages caused in the building by defects or vices of the building elements or the installations that produce the breach of the habitability requirements.
c) For 1 year, of the material damages by vices or execution defects that affect the elements of finishing of the works .
The deficiencies that may appear within these timeframes need to be fixed by the appropriate operators at no cost to the user.
It is very important to have written record of how the damage had occurred within the time set. Most advisable to do it through certified letter or burofax so that the sender can have acknowledgment of reception and date of reception of writing by the addressee.
Liability is individual for every different building agent (developer, builder, architect…), however, when it is not possible to tell who was the responsible, accountability is asked in a jointly way.
The period of limitation of actions to ask for these liabilities is of two years from the time such damages occur.
• Material damages that endanger the stability of the building (foundations, floor supports, beams, design errors).
• Material damages to secondary works, installations and equipment of the building (resulting from a major damage in the main building).
• Costs of repairs to eliminate the threat of subsidence.
• Cost of demolition and removal of debris (as a result of damages covered by the policy).
• Secondary work
• Waterproofing of decks.
• Waterproofing of facades.
• Waterproofing and sealing of basements.
• Waiver of appeal against the builder.
• Waiver of appeal against the contractor and / or subcontractor.
• Waiver of appeal against the technical direction.
• Damage to pre-existing goods.
• Revaluation of insured sum and franchises.
Not covered damages:
• Body injuries or economic damage other than those protected by the General Building Act.
• Damages caused to properties contiguous or adjacent to the building.
• Damages caused to movables goods which are located within the building.
• Damages produced by works performed after the receipt of the building, except those made to fix construction defects
• Damages caused by misuse or lack of proper maintenance of the building.
• Those that have their origin in a fire or explosion, except those caused by defects in the facilities themselves.
Arcos de la Frontera ( Cadiz) by Wild Guru Larry at Flickr.com
Legal tip 87. Redemption leeway for new assets in the Corporate Tax
18 May 2009
Published at 09:33 Comments (0)
Investments in new assets having to do with economic activities and acquired during a chargeable period starting in 2009 and 2010 may be paid at will provided the company maintains staff. This will contribute to encourage companies to carry out new investments.
Corporate Tax payers, that is to say, 1,350,000 companies, more than one million of them being small and medium-sized enterprises.
Approved of by virtue of Law 4/2008, dated 23 December, only for the period 2009-2010.
By Maria L. de Castro
Fountain Flower Closeup By Don Juannna at Flickr.com.
Legal tip 86. Monthly VAT returns
14 May 2009
Published at 12:29 Comments (0)
VAT payers can apply for their corresponding monthly return since January 2009: not necessary to wait till the end of the year. This measure improves the liquidity of companies.
The tipping was quick today.... was not?
Fountain detail by Juanluis.com
Legal tip 85.Tax reliefs for owners when renting
13 May 2009
Published at 13:22 Comments (0)
In order to encorage owners to place their properties in the renting market, the Government will increase up to 60% the tax deduction for earnings obtained from rentals. This deduction will keep being of 100% if the tenant is younger than 30 years/old or up to 35 years/old for already existing contracts.
Maria L. de Castro
Kisses at the Convent by SantiMB at Flickr.com
13 May 2009
Published at 10:23 Comments (0)
Has any of you seen this movie?
Legal tip 84. Law for promotion of Personal Autonomy... for resident foreigners
13 May 2009
Published at 10:06 Comments (0)
On December 2006, the Law for the Promotion of Personal Autonomy and attention to dependent people (the so-called Dependence Act) was approved of and it became the fourth pillar of the Welfare State, after universal health care provision, pensions and education.
This Law contemplates the creation of the System for Autonomy and Attention to Dependence (SAAD), which will come into force by 2015. It is aimed at meeting the requirements of dependent persons, providing them with high-quality public health care, and its sole access criteria will be the degree of dependence. Apart from financial aids for caretakers, the System of Attention to Dependence gives pre-eminence to the provision of services (help at home, day and night care centres, tele-health care and rooms at homes for dependent people).
In 2009, the Autonomous Regions will receive 1,159 million Euros to develop the Dependence Act, plus an additional investment of 400 million Euros from the special State fund for the stimulation of economy and employment. These additional funds will be invested in consolidating and improving the existing services, in creating more rooms at homes for dependent people, in enhancing caretaking services and in providing professional training.
In 2008, nearly 450,000 dependent persons (suffering from severe dependency or from moderate 2nd level dependency) in the whole of the Spanish territory benefited from financial aids or were provided with social services thanks to this programme.
In 2009, according to the agenda for the implementation of this Law, people suffering from severe 1st level dependency will also benefit from this programme. Besides, the System of Attention to Dependence will enhance the economic activity and create jobs in the social services’ sector.
( Information from http://welcome.plane.gob.es/)
Well, these aids are applicable to foreign residents according to provision 14 of the Foreigner´s Act, as follows:
Article 14. Right to Social Security and social services.
1. Foreign residents have rights to access the benefits and social security services under the same conditions of Spaniards.
2. Foreign residents have rights to enjoy social services and benefits, of both general and specific kind, under the same conditions of Spaniards.
3. Foreigners, regardless their administrative status, are entitled to basic social services and benefits.
Have a good Wednesday!
By Maria L. de Castro
Arcos de la Frontera Wall and Sky by Juanluis.com
Legal tip 83. Aids for schooling and University studies
12 May 2009
Published at 14:03 Comments (0)
The Government have increased by 6% the annual budget for scholarships in 2009 in order to guarantee equal opportunities, devoting up to 1,281 million Euros to this. Thus, the maximum income limits to obtain a scholarship and, therefore, more families will benefit from this policy.
Students meeting the requirements to obtain a scholarship will be granted the corresponding aid, because no limits have been set with regards to the number of scholarships to be granted. This year, the maximum income limits to be granted a scholarship will increase by 13.5% minimum as compared to the previous year; the limit will increase up to 62% in the case of “basic scholarships” for upper secondary school students. Besides, the Erasmus grants for university students intended to promote international mobility will increase by 10% in 2009; and the total budget set aside for these actions will amount to 66 million Euros
Schooling costs for both students and their families will be reduced. This scholarship policy is aimed at providing 50% of secondary students and 30% of university students with aids.
( Information extracted from http://welcome.plane.gob.es/
As a foreigner in Spain and taking into account the following provision by the Foreign Act:
Provision 9. Right to education of foreigners in Spain
1. - Every minor age foreigner has same right and obligation to education as Spanish nationals, these rights comprises: right to free and compulsory basic education, right to obtain the corresponding qualifications and right to access the public system of grants and aids.
2.- Public Administration will guarantee enough number of vacancies for those who apply for pree-school education, which is voluntary.
3. - Foreigners will have the right to access the non-compulsory education under same conditions as Spanish nationals. In particular, foreigners will have access to every education level, to obtain the corresponding qualifications and the right to access the public system of grants and aids.
4. - Public powers will promote the necessary education for the better social integration; will full acknowledgment and respect to their cultural identity, for those resident foreigners who need it.
5. - Resident foreigners can access teaching and research positions according to current legislation. Furthermore, they can create and direct education centres according to applicable law.
YOU ARE WELCOME TO OUR EDUCATION AIDS!
MORE TO COME TOMORROW AT THE THE STATE OF THE NATION DEBATE.
By Maria L. de Castro
Picture By RA100 at Flickr.com
Legal tip 82. Anticipated deduction on habitual residence purchase
11 May 2009
Published at 11:44 Comments (0)
Among measures to boost economy and employment...
Anticipated deduction on habitual residence purchase
Tax payers’ deductions will be reduced by two points on demand in order to bring into line the fiscal benefits obtained from Income Tax deductions applied to habitual residence purchase and mortgage fee payments. Thus, if a tax payer has been deducted 15% in his monthly payroll and he decided to apply for this measure, he will be deducted 13% from them on at the expense of the allowance he will be liable for when he presents the Income Tax Return. Thus, in 2009, citizens with lower income – between 1,700 and 2,000 Euros - will be applied lower allowances.
Workers and self-employed workers whose annual income is inferior to 33,000 Euros. According to official estimates, at least 3.5 million tax payers may benefit from this measure.
It was approved of by virtue of Royal Decree 1975/2008, dated 28 November 2008. The forms for tax payers to communicate their decision to apply for this measure are available since last 18 December.
Telephone no.: 901 335533
( Information obtained from: http://welcome.plane.gob.es/)
By Maria L. de Castro
Well in a restaurant in Vejer de la Frontera ( Cadiz) By Manolo Blanco at Flickr.com
Legal Tip 81: Day, week rental contracts
06 May 2009
Published at 16:04 Comments (13)
A very interesting source of financial aid for your home in Spain is the "very-short" rental contracts: on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis for work or tourism reasons.
Of course the medium-term contracts (seasonal: several months or a determined medium length period) and the permanent or home rental contract are always possibilities to add.
This tourism schemes are actually a strong competition to hotels these days.Internet provides to you the sideboard for the offer of your house or apartment to anyone, anywhere in the world. As an owner,it is very advisable to choose a competitive, fully legal company/website to market it.
It is also important to know that if your apartment is classified as Touristic apartment, it is under specific regulations.
Some legal tips for agencies, owners and users:
- Search for an effective and legal company in order to market the apartment.
- Make clear the price, terms of payment of the agency fee and reserved dates when you want to enjoy the property. A good agency contract is needed in that case.
- Submit rent disputes with both the agency and the user of the house to arbitration rather than Courts.
- Hire a good liability insurance.
- Make sure the apartment meets the current regulations for vacation homes/tourist apartments and register it (in the case IT IS NOT a tourist apartment) in the department of Tourism of the corresponding region.
- Ask and keep both reservation and contract documents for any claim.
- Check that the intermediate company is registered and have a CIF number.
- Ask for Civil liability Insurance coverage of the apartment.
- You can be asked for a bond of 150 and 250 euros to be returned once you leave the apartment.
- You are liable for any damage you caused to the apartment.
- Ask for the keys to be handed in the apartment at a specific time on the day of your arrival so both agent and you can perform the inspection of the apartment together (cleaning, list of objects, lighting, gas…)
- Make sure your company complies with legal requirements and registration and with the Consumers Law regarding this type of services.
Sancti Petri Beach ( Chiclana) Cadiz by Sidi Guariach at Flickr.com
Legal tip 80. Ask your Bank to correct your interest rates!
05 May 2009
Published at 15:27 Comments (1)
If you have got a mortgage loan with reference to the Euribor index, you have got the right to ask your bank to addapt the interest rate according to lower money prices offered by the European Central Bank. Just in case they forgot to do it!
By Maria L. de Castro
Conil, Cadiz, Andalucia by Flidolin at Flickr.com
Legal Tip 79. Can I cancel my trip to Mexico?
05 May 2009
Published at 11:02 Comments (0)
The General Law for the Protection of Consumers and Users (Royal Legislative-Decree 1 / 2007) says that the consumer has the right to cancel the trip without penalty and without having to pay anything to the agency or wholesaler, provided he is claiming a force majeure. Force majeure is those unexpected, objective, unavoidable circumstances.
The Spanish Foreign department has already advised not to travel to Mexico unless urgent, necessary reasons. These recommendations by the Foreign Department are considered by the Travel Industry as force majeure.
You may find that the Agency better tries to offer to you a different destination, well, you need to know you are not obliged to accept it and are entitled to ask for the full refund of your money before the same Agency.
If the cancellation is done with more than 15 days of anticipation, there should not be any charge for it. If it is done 11 to 14 days in advance, a penalty of 5% is due, if done 3 to 10 days before the trip, the corresponding penalty is of the 15%, if in a shorter deadline, 25% of the money.
Grazalema By Andy Cardiff at Flickr.com
Legal tip 78. Electricity companies paying your bills if...
04 May 2009
Published at 10:02 Comments (0)
The Cabinet approved on Friday a Royal Decree that will allow more than five million households to freeze their electricity rates for four years, and in return, the Royal Decree includes an agreement to resolve the shortfall of electricity tariff.
The measure, implemented through a Royal Decree and under the label "social bonus" will be funded by companies that generate electricity and will cover the difference between the value of the rate of last resort (TUR) and a reference rate called the “reduced rate”.
The approved subsidized fee will apply to low income user. Beneficiaries of the bonus will be:
Families with all members unemployed.
Large families (three or more kids)
Those receiving the minimum pension.
Those with a contracted power lower than 3 KW in first residence.
Of course, resident foreigners have same rights as Spanish nationals to be benefited by this bonus.
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