The General Directorate of Public Registries and Notaries holds a dissenting view from that of the Supreme Court on the maximum duration of systems in existence before the 1998 Timeshare Act

RDO has furnished us with a Report dated 9 February 2016 which was issued by the General Directorate of Public Registries and Notaries at the request of the Ombudsman of the Canary Islands.

We believe that the interpretation reflected in this report is more in line with the spirit, the rationale and the mandatory provisions of the Rotational Enjoyment of Real Property for Tourism Purposes Act 42/1998 (LAT 42/1998).

It is important to stress that this Act was in fact developed within the General Directorate of Public Registries and Notaries. This Act incorporated the prescriptions of the 1994 Timeshare Directive, but it was also intended to respect the rights in existence before its enactment, albeit demanding the owners and/or promoters of this kind of touristic operation to have the pre-existing system registered, whether transformed into a system of in-rem or leasehold rights of rotational enjoyment or preserving its own pre-existing legal nature, whether subject to Spanish or to non-Spanish law, and whether its maximum duration was 50 years or more, or even indefinite if this was expressly declared in the Deed.

REPORT ON CURRENT SITUATION OF RIGHTS OF ROTATIONAL ENJOYMENT OF REAL PROPERTY CREATED BEFORE THE COMING INTO FORCE OF THE ACT OF 15 DECEMBER 1998

   (Click on the originals images-pages below for the Spanish version)

Informe DGRN 1-page-001

Following a request filed with the General Register of the Ministry of Justice on 16 December 2015, this report has been issued by this General Directorate with regard to a query made by the Canary Islands’ Ombudsman concerning the current situation of the rights of rotational enjoyment of real property created before the coming into force of the Act of 15 December 1998.

THE ASSISTANT DEPUTY DIRECTOR,

Elena Imedio Marugán

Informe DGRN 1-page-002

Sec. 3ª R. 1833/2015-10.4

REPORT ON CURRENT SITUATION OF RIGHTS OF ROTATIONAL ENJOYMENT OF REAL PROPERTY CREATED BEFORE THE COMING INTO FORCE OF THE ACT OF 15 DECEMBER 1998

            The report requested on the instruction of the Ombudsman of the Canary Islands focuses on the current situation of those rights of rotational enjoyment of real property which were created before the coming into force of the Timeshare Act of 15 December 1998.

            This request has been prompted by various Judgements of our Supreme Court (specifically the Judgements rendered on 15 January and 16 July 2015 by the Civil Chamber) which declare the nullity of certain contracts relating to rights of enjoyment –which had been created before the enactment of the aforementioned rule-, the execution date of such contracts being later than said coming into force.

            Both cases involved rights relating to occupation periods which were still owned by the promoter of the scheme.

            The Supreme Court, similarly in both cases, resolved the matter as follows:

“SEVENTH LEGAL GROUND

 I.- Act 42/1998 of 15 December regulated the different formulas enabling the transfer of the right to use an accommodation unit during a period of time each year, which had been known as multi-ownership despite the fact that, as stated in the Rationale, they involved a temporal division of the right to use a real property.

 In addition to implementing Directive 94/47/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 1994 –regarding protection to the purchasers in relation to certain aspects of contracts of acquisition of the right to use real property on a timeshare basis-, the legislator intended to provide the institution with a full set of regulations, for which purpose they considered of utmost importance to decide whether any of the formulas created by the principle of free will should be admitted or only the system regulated by Law was admissible and any other system should be therefore left out. And they chose a middle path by imposing a detailed regulation of the right in rem over somebody else’s property and admitting the seasonal leasehold variation so that, outside this alternative, the legislator considered that the transaction had been made in circumvention of law and, also, that the fraudulent legal transaction was to be rendered null and void –article 1, paragraph 7-.

 Of particular importance for the regulation established in the Act was the duration of the scheme, determined by article 3, paragraph 1, as lasting three to fifty years – “[…] from the date of registration of the legal scheme or from the date of registration of the completion of works where the scheme has been created in respect of a property under construction”-.

  This rule is supplemented by the second transitional provision, in which the legislator addressed the effects of the new regulation on the so-called “pre-existing schemes”, imposing the mandatory adaptation of the latter to its provisions within two years –paragraph 1 -.

Indeed, after imposing such an adaptation to the new scheme, also in relation to time – “without prejudice to that set forth in the last preceding paragraph, all pre-existing schemes…..

Informe DGRN 2-page-001

….will have a maximum duration of fifty years as from the coming into force of this Act […]” – , paragraph 3 of said transitional rule permitted the possibility of formulating, in the Deed of Adaptation, an “[…] express declaration of continuance for an indefinite or a specific period of time”.

 This latter alternative, informed by a wish to respect the rights already acquired, was chosen by Anfi Sales, SL, insofar as it expressly declared in the Deed of Adaptation that its pre-existing scheme would continue to have an indefinite duration.

 However, the appellant’s interpretation of the aforementioned paragraph 3 of the second transitional provision, on which it bases its argument, does not respect the sense which arises out of the systematic connection thereof to paragraph 2 of the transitional rule itself, whose content the former respects in any event – “without prejudice to that set forth in the last preceding paragraph […]” – and according to which every owner – also, therefore, the now appellant – who, after the Deed of Adaptation, wanted to “market the occupation periods not yet transferred as rights of rotational enjoyment”, should constitute “the scheme in respect of the periods available with the requirements established in this Act”, including the temporal requirement stablished in article 3, paragraph 1.

 The Appellant, claiming the applicability of a rule which did not provide sufficient coverage, failed to do this and, therefore, by marketing the occupation periods not yet transferred when the new Act was already in force without respecting the timeframe established in the rule of said article, it breached the article, as declared by the Appeal Court by virtue of a correct interpretation of the set of regulations (Supreme Court Judgement of 15 January 2015).

 Therefore, what our high court wanted to point out is that, while contracts entered into before the 1998 Act may continue to have the duration thereby agreed, including an indefinite duration (provided that this has been expressly established in the Deed of Adaptation), all contracts entered into after the coming into force of the rule must be subject to the temporal limits laid down therein (namely, a maximum duration of 50 years).

In other words, only those rights relating to occupation periods constituted in favour of third-party purchasers, not promoters of the scheme, whose contracts were entered into before the coming into force of the Act of 15 December 1998, are protected with an eventual indefinite duration.

The transitional provision applied in the aforementioned rulings is that contained in the Second Transitional Provision of Act 42/1998 of 15 December, which literally states as follows:

 

            “Second – Pre-existing Schemes

 

  1. Pre-existing schemes relating to rights involving the use of one or more properties, constructed or under construction, during a defined or definable period of the year, the establishment of which is recorded in any form recognised by law, must be adapted to the provisions of this Act within a period of two years.

             If the pre-existing scheme is registered, the Registrar may be asked to provide the non-binding report referred to in Article 355 of the Mortgage Regulations concerning the manner in which the adaptation is to be effected.

Informe DGRN 2-page-002

 At the end of the two years, any holder of an in-rem or personal right relating to the use of one or more properties during a defined or definable period of the year may apply to the Courts for the enforcement of the adaptation described in this provision.

  1. For such an adaptation it will be necessary, in any event, to execute a regulatory deed fulfilling those requirements of Article 5 which are compatible with the nature of the scheme and to have it registered at the Land Registry, solely for public record purposes and fully respecting the rights acquired. Of the contracts to which the said Article refers, only those which are in existence at the time of the adaptation must be incorporated. The deed must be executed by the sole owner of the property.

             If the pre-existing scheme was established in such a way that the holders of the rights are owners of undivided shares in the property which confer on them the right to enjoy a defined occupation period, the deed of adaptation must be executed by the President of the Community of Owners following a resolution passed by a simple majority of those attending the General Meeting to be called for that purpose.

 In the deed of adaptation, the sole owner of the property must describe the pre-existing scheme and declare that the rights to be conveyed in the future will be of the nature derived from that scheme and identical to those already transferred. If the owner wishes to market as rotational enjoyment rights the occupation periods which have not yet been transferred, they must also establish the scheme in respect of those unallocated periods subject to the requirements of this Act, albeit the scheme will not need to be established for the whole property but only in respect of those occupation periods which have not yet been transferred. If the Owner wishes to convert the whole scheme into a scheme of rotational enjoyment rights, as regulated by the Act, they may do so in accordance with all the requirements contained herein, albeit maintaining the duration of the pre-existing scheme, even if such a duration is indefinite.

  1. Without prejudice to the provisions of the last preceding paragraph, all pre-existing schemes will have a maximum duration of fifty years from the coming into effect of this Act unless their duration is shorter or the deed of adaptation contains an express statement that they are to continue for an indefinite period or for a specific period of time.”

             In a wider sense, the provisions on transitional regulations contained in our Civil Code (whose interpretative value may in no event be called into question) included the basic rule of non-retroactivity, along the same lines as article 2 of the same body of laws and article 9 of the Spanish Constitution, guarantor of legal certainty and non-retroactivity of penalty provisions which are not favourable to, or restrictive of, individual rights.

Our Code on transitional provisions sets forth that:

“Any variation introduced by this Code which is detrimental to rights acquired under the preceding civil legislation will not have retroactive effect.

 

First transitional provision

 The legislation which preceded the Code shall govern those rights which, according to said preceding legislation, arise from actions performed under its regime, even if these are regulated differently or fail to be recognised by the new Code. However, where a right is declared for the first time in the Code, it will take effect immediately irrespective of whether or not the fact from which it arose was verified under the preceding legislation, provided that it is not detrimental to another acquired right of the same origin.

Informe DGRN 3-page-001

Second transitional provision

 Acts and contracts executed under the preceding legislation which are valid according to it shall take full effect in accordance thereto, with the limitations established in these rules. (…) but the revocation or modification of such acts or of any clause contained therein may only be verified, after the coming into force of the Code, by executing a Will in accordance with it.”

 The literal wording of the rules analysed clearly shows the establishment of a non-retroactivity system whereby the rights, acts and contracts created before the publication of the rule were fully protected and regulated by the preceding regulations.

In this sense, despite being reiterative, it is relevant to point out that the Second Transitional Provision of the 15 December 1998 Act states as follows:

Pre-existing schemes must be adapted, within two years, to the provisions of this Act. For such an adaptation it will be necessary, in any event, to execute a regulatory deed fulfilling those requirements of Article 5 which are compatible with the nature of the scheme and to have it registered at the Land Registry, solely for public record purposes and fully respecting the rights acquired.

            In the deed of adaptation, the sole owner of the property must describe the pre-existing scheme and declare that the rights to be conveyed in the future will be of the nature derived from that scheme and identical to those already transferred.

If the owner wishes to market as rotational enjoyment rights the occupation periods which have not yet been transferred, they must also establish the scheme in respect of those unallocated periods subject to the requirements of this Act, albeit the scheme will not need to be established for the whole property but only in respect of those occupation periods which have not yet been transferred.

 If the Owner wishes to convert the whole scheme into a scheme of rotational enjoyment rights, as regulated by the Act, they may do so in accordance with all the requirements contained herein, albeit maintaining the duration of the pre-existing scheme, even if such a duration is indefinite.

 Without prejudice to the provisions of the last preceding paragraph, all pre-existing schemes will have a maximum duration of fifty years from the coming into effect of this Act unless their duration is shorter or the deed of adaptation contains an express statement that they are to continue for an indefinite period or for a specific period of time.”

 This provision, therefore, demands that pre-existing schemes be duly adapted to the new Act (mainly in the sense of clarifying the nature of the right created), but it allows a subjection to certain conditions of the preceding scheme including, without a doubt, the possibility of indefinite duration. And such an indefinite duration can apply both to occupation periods created and transferred and to those not yet transferred.

Also, executing the deed of adaptation entails, by virtue of mandatory rule no. 3 of article 5.1 of the 1998 Act, that the deed must reflect the occupation periods which exist in relation to each unit, including both those transferred and those still in possession of the promoter of the scheme. In addition, the Second Transitional Provision of the aforementioned special Act itself allows both the possibility of configuring a right of rotational enjoyment in respect of the unsold occupation periods and the conversion of all the existing rights (sold or…..

Informe DGRN 3-page-002

….unsold) for a full subjection thereof to the rule, albeit allowing it to maintain the duration of the pre-existing scheme, even if indefinite. It does not seem logical to allow the promoter to configure all the occupation periods under the new scheme (not under a mere adaptation) and maintain the indefinite duration of the scheme while, at the same time, the situation of the as yet unsold periods (although already created as such occupation periods before its coming into force) may not be configured under the new Act preserving its indefinite duration.

Additionally, and included in this report for its interpretative value as aforesaid, it is worth pointing out that the rules of the Civil Code on transitional law acknowledge the validity and ulterior applicability of all rights, acts and contracts executed before its coming into force, which means that, in a case like this, where the right of the promoter of the scheme had already been created on configuring –before the 1998 Act– the units and the occupation periods or rights relating to them, the publication of the new rule should not impair or alter such legal situations already created or the effects which the latter may have.

Therefore, the conclusion to be drawn is that our high court has differentiated between occupation periods already marketed (which are allowed to maintain their indefinite nature) and those not transferred, whose indefinite duration they regard as a breach of the 50-year temporal limitation, which infraction is acknowledged as deserving to be rendered null and void under article 6 of our Civil Code. This argument, therefore, differs from the sense which, in this directorate’s view, is intended by the 15 December 1998 Act for the purposes of adaptation of pre-existing schemes to its substantive provisions.

It is not reasonable that the whole system of enjoyment should be allowed to be converted to the new Act (where marketed and unsold periods coexist) and maintain the indefinite duration of all its occupation periods while, in the event that only the periods not marketed are directly regulated by the new Act, their duration is limited to 50 years. The rotational system, in both cases, existed before the coming into force of the rule, and it involves a number of rights in favour of the promoter (all of them included and defined in the deed of adaptation imposed by the transitional rule and registered with the Land Registry) to which the rule is applied retroactively, without respecting their indefinite duration.

Transferring the occupation periods already configured to a third party may not be considered to constitute the event which allows a differentiation between indefinite and limited duration periods, as the promoter’s right has, without a doubt, come into existence, and its configuration took place before the coming into force of the Act, not to mention that some of the paragraphs of the Second Transitional Provision of the 1998 Act are thereby fully voided.

Madrid, 8th February 2016.

THE DIRECTOR GENERAL

Francisco Javier Gómez Gálligo

Lizarza AbogadosS.L.P.U.

Marbella, 9th March 2016

INFORME DE LA D.G. DE REGISTROS Y DEL NOTARIADO SOBRE REGÍMENES PRE-EXISTENTES A LA “L.A.T” 42/98: “UNA VISIÓN DISTINTA A LAS RECIENTES “SS.TT.SS”

RDO nos ha facilitado el informe  de la Dirección General de Registros y del Notariado de fecha 9 de febrero de de 2016, emitido a instancia del Diputado del Común (Defensor del Pueblo) de Canarias.

Creemos que este informe recoge una interpretación más adecuada al espíritu, a la propia exposición de motivos y las disposiciones imperativas de la Ley 42/1998 de 15 de Diciembre de Aprovechamiento por Turno de Bienes Inmuebles de Uso Turístico (L.A.T. 43/1998).

Hay que recordar que esa Ley se gestó en la propia Dirección General de Registros y del Notariado.- En esa Ley se incorporaban las prescripciones de la Directiva de Tiempo Compartido de 1.994, pero además se pretendía en la misma respectar los derechos preexistentes a la misma, pero exigiendo a los propietarios y/o promotores de esta clase de explotación turística, la inscripción del régimen preexistente, ya fueran transformados o no en derechos reales o arrendaticios de aprovechamiento por turno o manteniendo su propia naturaleza jurídica preexistentes, tanto los sujetos a ley española como a ley no española y con una duración máxima de 50 años o superior e incluso indefinida si así se declarase en la escritura de forma expresa.

 (Para una mejor lectura pulse en la imagen-pagina para agrandarla)Informe DGRN 1-page-001 Informe DGRN 1-page-002 Informe DGRN 2-page-001 Informe DGRN 2-page-002 Informe DGRN 3-page-001 Informe DGRN 3-page-002

Lizarza Abogados

04.03.2016

Ombudsman of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands warns of “serious” consequences if the “timesharing” gets overridden

picture 1In the Canary Islands there are 14,000 timeshare properties, representing 58,874 beds, with an occupancy rate of 81.1%, generating 10,000 direct jobs

Europa Press – Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

The Ombudsman of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, Jerónimo Saavedra, has expressed his concern about the situation of “legal uncertainty” between owners and the “serious breach” that can bring to the Tax Office the annulment of time sharing contracts.

This was pointed out in a statement as a result of several Supreme Court judgments of the past year in which they have declared void the rights acquired for an indefinite period for real property for tourist purposes timeshare, also known as time sharing mode.

Saavedra comes to meet a complaint lodged to the Ombudsman of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands on this matter, as well as several public consultations in this regard.

In those complaints is warned the situation of legal uncertainty, in addition to the possible economic and financial impacts, as well as tariffs impacts or other, that can arise to restore the taxes and expenses that might have been paid as a result of carrying those contracts out.

It is also notified the serious breach to the Tax Office that going back to the situation prior to granting the contracts could cause to the Tax Office, such as compensation for damages whose amount can be very high if declared void, says Saavedra.

The Ombudsman of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands maintains that it is a matter of “great significance” in the Canary Islands, given the relevance of this modality within the tourist sector on the islands. Of the 302 timeshare resorts that exist in Spain, 128 are in the Canaries. In the entire country there are about 715,000 holders, of which approximately 623,000 are foreigners.

This industry generates in Spain more than 18,300 direct jobs and a total economic impact (direct and indirect) of 2,800 million Euros, with an investment by purchasers of nearly 15,000 million Euros, almost 1.5% of GDP , funded mostly by foreigners who could take them back to their countries of origin.

In the Canary Islands there are 14,000 timeshare properties, representing 58,874 beds, with an occupancy rate of 81.1%, generating 10,000 direct jobs. The average expenditure per owner in 2013 was 45.2 Euros per day, at an average stay of 11.6 days and an average occupancy rate in the same annuity of 81.1%.

Every year 1.3 million tourists visit the Canaries in this modality, over 10% of the tourism received by the islands per year, according to the figures provided in 2014 by Resort Development Organization, in line with the National Association of Timeshare and Canarian Institute of Statistics.

Limitation of 50 years

The Ombudsman of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands points out that the Supreme Court judgments are based on an interpretation which denies that the pre existing resorts or regimes to the Law on real estate for tourist purposes timesharing right and the tax regulations “cannot be passed on indefinitely but with a 50 year time limitation”.

In the report of the Ombudsman of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, after analyzing the legal text, he holds that the approach adopted by the Supreme Court does not adjusts entirely to the law, and understands that the legislator “sough to grant the acquired rights and provide security to the preexisting regimes, while strengthening the position of the consumer”.

At the same time it emphasizes that the law aims to strengthen the juridical legality and safety with the public notaries and land registrars, entrusting the former ones with formalizing the public deed, ensuring its disclosure by accessing the Land Register.

Jerónimo Saavedra explained that after this Law, many public notaries and land registrars granted and registered adaptation deeds to the aforementioned legal requirement, of pre existing regimes to it, stating that the weeks or specific period each year, to be sold in the future would be indefinitely.

Further adds that also public notaries authorized contracts regarding timesharing accommodation rights, which were configured with an indefinite time character or without a term, i.e. beyond the scenario of 50 years.

This is why, the Ombudsman of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, has issued a resolution requesting the Registries and Public Notaries CEOs to decide as to whether in the light of the existing legislation such operations may be carried out as indefinite or must be done with the maximum time limit of 50 years.

Jeronimo Saavedra concludes by asking “what would be left of the legal security deposited in these two groups of very high legal professionals if we find judgments that decree the nullity of contracts in which they have intervened or that have been reflected in the appropriate Land Registry”.

LIZARZA ABOGADOS

 

SPANISH TIMESHARE ACT 42/98: REAPING WHAT WAS SOWN

Many a draft came to light in the 1990s aiming to enact a law which would specifically regulate what was initially called timeshare (tiempo compartido in Spanish), and many seminars, conferences, etc. were held to make proposals, discuss what its scope should be and, especially, establish a reliable legal framework for both the consumers and the traders in the Sector.

Eventually, as has often been the case, the new Act was rushed as a result of the need to have a new law given the quantitative and qualitative importance of this phenomenon and, to no lesser extent, the media impact of the problems which had arisen between consumers and traders and the so-called abusive practices in its commercialisation.- But the fact is that, after many years of drafts, bills, etc., the urgent need or, rather, obligation, to enact a specific law for this economic activity arose, as has happened on many other occasions, from the adoption by the European Parliament and the Council of Directive 94/47/EC of 26 October. And, also as many times before, the Act which incorporated into the Spanish legal system the provisions of the Directive was enacted by the Kingdom of Spain well past the deadline thereby established; so late, in fact, that everything had to be done rather hastily.

Timeshare became popular in Spain under the name “multi-ownership”, in some cases meaning strict ownership of a certain share of a property but, ncreasingly so among Spaniards, as a term equivalent to the timeshare name, as a literal translation of ‘timeshare’

When the pressing need to implement the aforementioned Directive arose, the General Directorate of Public Registries and Notaries was tasked with drafting the Bill. It seemed quite surprising that the proposed regulation of this predominantly touristic phenomenon, which today is called “marketing of accommodation in tourism establishments” even in the relevant legal texts, should start and be developed by the management body of Notaries and Registrars of Property. That is, its structure or legal regulation had become a matter of ownership, or of rights directly related to ownership, despite the fact that this word was banned from the marketing process.

The drafters of the Bill acknowledged at all times that this was a (merely) touristic activity but, when it came down to it, the “touristic element” of the new regulation was the least important thing.

Directive 94/47/EC contained a clear mandate to the legislators of the EC member states to incorporate certain “consumer protection” rules, the fundamental purpose of which was to prevent the bad practices which doubtless existed. To do so, particular focus was put on the need to provide the consumer with truthful, detailed information, to establish a ten-day period of free withdrawal from the contract of acquisition of the right –which in certain cases could be extended for another three months- , to prohibit “advance payments” on account of the price during the withdrawal and termination period, to ensure that annual service fees may not be determined arbitrarily by either party, etc. But the Directive never required –quite simply because it did not fall within its competence– a civil or mercantile regulation of this economic activity. This was a faculty and discretion to be exercised by each State at its convenience.

And what the Spanish Administration did, through the General Directorate of Public Registries and Notaries, was consistent with the Body which had been tasked with this Bill: It chose to implement a full regulation of the timeshare phenomenon which included the mandatory rules laid down by the Directive but also a substantive regulation of the legal systems and contracts of “timeshare” and/or “multi-ownership”, which would thereby start to be known, exclusively, as aprovechamiento por turno de bienes inmuebles de uso turístico (rotational enjoyment of real property for tourist use).

The drafters of the Bill, without a doubt, in keeping with their background and convinced that it was the best option, chose to prohibit the future use of any other legal system for this kind of touristic rights and decided to establish an only, mandatory formula, outside of which there was no other option.

This new legal formula was called “limited right in rem of rotational enjoyment of real property”

Only very restrictively –and, as we now know given the interpretation of the Supreme Court, also insufficiently and confusingly– were the legal systems in existence before this Act “acknowledged” and allowed to maintain their pre-existing real or personal nature, albeit a formal requirement was imposed on them to give public status to the system without transforming its own legal nature by causing it to be registered at the Land Registry. Other than that, there was nothing but restrictions and safeguard clauses to prevent any leak through the wall of the dam which had been designed to “stem the tide”.

And based on what economic studies, what studies in the reality of this phenomenon and its level of compliance, what studies on a tourism level, what comparative report on these systems and what the consequences would be… did the drafters of the bill reach that conclusion?

RDO 2

The Spanish Association of Timeshare Traders (A.N.E.T.C.), currently the Spanish Chapter of the European Trade Organisation RDO, conveyed to the General Directorate of Public Registries and Notaries the opinion of this trading sector on the matter, which included the following views:

  • The exclusive limited right in rem of rotational enjoyment could be a valuable instrument to configure the timeshare sector, but it could not be the only configuration once the Act came into force. It was pointed out to the Directorate that this was a touristic product and a changing touristic activity, and that such a tight confinement within the boundaries of a purely property-related right would be counterproductive to both the traders and the consumers.

Not much success was achieved other than an alternative formula which was almost identical to the former, albeit configured as a leasehold right of rotational enjoyment which had to be formally established by public deed and whose registration with the Land Registry was mandatory so that determinable units of the same type and determinable occupation periods within the same season could exist in one only resort.

A prohibition was thus established on flexible systems which related to various resorts in Spain or in several countries, or the already incipient “points systems”.

The A.N.E.T.C. also argued that the intended prohibition of any other system of personal or binding rights (article 1.7 of the Spanish Timeshare Act 42/1998) was contrary to a rule of Spanish Law which prevailed over this new rule, i.e. the 1980 Rome Convention, and, despite this qualification being known, the matter was left in limbo. Hence the title of this article.

To avoid the confusion which the former Timeshare Act 42/1998 had created in this regard, the new Spanish Timeshare Act 42/2012 made specific mention of timeshare (aprovechamiento por turno) contracts in accordance with the Rome I Regulation, which had replaced the former EU rule known as the 1980 Rome Convention.

Not being in agreement with the Bill, A.N.E.T.C. made a formal request to the Council of State to ask that its observations be taken on board (which, on the other hand, were the only observations submitted to it as no other organisation made a similar request).

 The traditonal & central building of the Spanish State Council in Madrid

Without a doubt, such observations of this trade organisation were partly embraced by the Council of State in its report, some of whose points we would like to highlight –the full text can be found in Spanish on the following link:

https://www.boe.es/buscar/doc.php?id=CE-D-1997-1123&lang=es

One of the considerations of the Council of State in its Report refers to the “Conclusions of the Special Commission for the determination, study and proposed solution to the problems posed by the application of the Legal and Economic System, in which I was invited as “interlocutor”

I  believe that the Report of the Council of State shows the shortcomings of the process which led to the enactment of the Timeshare Act 42/1998, one of which is, without a doubt, a deficient regulation of legal systems of personal rights which can doubtless be used for the configuration of “timeshare” or “rotational enjoyment” rights.

It would have sufficed to be aware of what the reality of timeshare was back then based not on personal opinions but on a deep, serious study of its circumstances.

I would like to finalize this article taking the following paragraph from the Report of the Council of State

All these loopholes determine that this opinion – the Report says – must be given without knowing a very important group of circumstances of particular relevance. Thus, with proper account being taken of such a reservation and considering the eminently touristic and vacational spirit of this sector and its very relevant projection to non-residents, the Council of State feels that the regulation “ex novo” of a special system of rotational enjoyment of real property should include the dual possibility of following legal-in rem or legal-personal formulas. 

 

This article only intends to express the undersigned’s opinion.

Franciso J Lizazarza – Lizarza Abogados –February 2016

 

 

 

 

 

LAT 42/98: DE AQUELLOS BARROS, ESTOS LODOS

Imagen

Muchos fueron los borradores  que en los años noventa vieron la luz con el objetivo de lograr una ley que regulara de forma específica lo que en un principio se llamó  “time sharing” o tiempo compartido y muchos fueron también los seminarios, conferencias, etc.,  para hacer propuestas, discutir cual debía ser su alcance y sobretodo lograr un marco legal de confianza para los consumidores y a también para los empresarios del (Sector).

Al final, como en otras ocasiones, se precipito la necesidad de contar con la nueva ley por la importancia cuantitativa y cualitativa de este fenómeno, y no en menor medida por la transcendencia mediática de los problemas surgidos entre promotores y consumidores y en lo que se dieron en llamar las prácticas abusivas en su comercialización.- Pero ciertamente, tras años de borradores, anteproyectos, etc.- la imperiosa necesidad, o mejor dicho la obligación de promulgar una ley específica para esta actividad económica provino, como ha ocurrido en otras muchas ocasiones, de la adopción por el Parlamento y Consejo Europeo de la Directiva 94/47/CE de 26 de Octubre.- Y también como en otras ocasiones, el Reino de España viene a promulgar la ley que incorpora al ordenamiento jurídico español las previsiones de la Directiva muy fuera del plazo establecido por aquella, y tanta es la demora que además, hay que hacerlo con bastante precipitación.

El tiempo compartido en España se llegó a popularizar con el nombre “multipropiedad”, en unos casos con un significado estricto de propiedad por cuotas, pero cada vez más entre los españoles como término equivalente a la genérica denominación de tiempo compartido, como traducción  literal de “time share”.

Cuando surgió esa apremiante necesidad de implementar la Directiva citada, se encargó a la Dirección General de Registros y del Notariado que redactara el borrador de anteproyecto. Resultó sorprendente que este fenómeno  eminentemente turístico de lo que hoy ya se llama hasta en los textos legales como modo “comercialización de alojamientos de establecimientos turísticos” tuviese como sede en la que comenzara y desarrollara su propuesta de regulación al órgano rector de los notarios y registradores de la propiedad. Es decir se convertía su estructura o regulación legal en un asunto de propiedad o de derechos directamente vinculados a la propiedad, aunque se prohibiera esta palabra en su comercialización.

Los redactores del anteproyecto reconocieron en todo momento que se trataba de una actividad turística, meramente turística, pero a la hora de la verdad la “carga turística” de la nueva regulación fue lo menos importante.

La Directiva 94/47/CE contenía un claro mandato para los legisladores de los países integrantes de la CE de incorporar una serie de normas de “protección de consumidores”, fundamentalmente destinada a evitar las malas prácticas sin duda existentes. Para ello se hizo hincapié en la necesidad de proporcionar al consumidor una veraz  y detallada información, de establecer un periodo de desistimiento libre del contrato de adquisición derecho de diez días, prorrogable en los casos previstos por tres meses mas, de prohibir “anticipos” a cuenta del precio durante el periodo de desistimiento y de resolución, que las cuotas de servicios anuales no se determinasen arbitrariamente por unas de las partes, etc. Pero lo que no pedía la Directiva, simplemente porque no era de su competencia, es la forma de regulación civil o mercantil de este sector de la actividad económica. Esta era una facultad y criterio de conveniencia de cada Estado.

Y  la Administración española, a través de la Dirección General de Registros y del Notariado, hizo lo que era consecuente con el organismo al que al que se le encargo este anteproyecto: “Optar por una regulación completa del fenómeno del tiempo compartido que incluyera las normas de obligatoria observancia conforme a la Directiva, pero también la regulación sustantiva de los regímenes legales y contratos de “tiempo compartido” y/o “multipropiedad” que pasó a denominarse legalmente de forma exclusiva como “aprovechamiento por turno de bienes inmuebles de uso turístico”.

Sin duda y consecuentemente con su formación hipotecaria y por convencimiento propio de que era lo mejor, se opto por los redactores del anteproyecto por prohibir a futuro cualquier otro régimen legal de esta clase de derechos turísticos; optando por una fórmula única y obligatoria, más allá de la cual no cabían otras.

Esta nueva figura jurídica se denominó “derecho real limitado de aprovechamiento por turno de bienes inmuebles”.

Sólo cicateramente –y hoy sabemos  por la interpretación del Tribunal Supremo que insuficiente y confusamente- se “reconocían los regímenes preexistentes a la ley” que no tenían que cambiar su naturaleza real o personal preexistente, aunque se le imponía un requisito formal de publicitar el régimen sin transformación de su propia naturaleza jurídica mediante su inscripción en el régimen en el Registro de la Propiedad. A partir de ahí  todo eran restricciones y cláusulas de salvaguardia para impedir cualquier “fuga del vaso de contención” que se había diseñado para poner puertas al campo”

¿Y sobre que estudios económicos, sobre que estudios de la realidad de ese fenómeno, de su nivel de cumplimiento, sobre que estudios de orden turístico, sobre qué memoria comparativa de sistemas, cuáles serían las consecuencias sobre las que llegaron a esa conclusión los redactores del anteproyecto?.

La Asociación  Nacional de Empresarios de Tiempo Compartido =A.N.E.T.C.= que hoy es el Capitulo español de la Organización de ámbito europeo (R.D.O),  puso de manifiesto a la Dirección General de Registros y del Notariado, cual era la opinión del sector empresarial, que entre otras fueron la siguiente:

– La forma exclusiva de derecho real limitado de aprovechamiento por turno podía ser una valiosa forma de configurar el régimen de tiempo compartido, pero no podía ser la única desde que entrase en vigor la ley.- Se les hizo notar que  era un producto y una actividad turística, cambiante y que sin duda si se la constreñía de tal forma en un derecho puramente inmobiliario, sería contraproducente para los empresarios y los consumidores.-

No se tuvo mucho éxito más allá de una fórmula alternativa prácticamente igual a la anterior, si bien como derecho arrendaticio de aprovechamiento por turno que había de ser constituido en escritura pública y de obligatoria inscripción en el registro de la propiedad, con objeto de que pudieran existir alojamientos determinables del mismo tipo y turnos determinables de la misma temporada en el propio y único complejo urbanístico.

Con ello se prohibían los sistemas flexibles que afectaran  a varios complejos en España, o de varios países o los ya incipientes sistemas “por puntos”.

Se argumentó además por A.N.E.C.T. que la pretendida prohibición de cualquier otro régimen de derecho personal u obligacional (artículo 1.7 LAT 42/1998) era contrario a la norma legal española de rango superior a esta nueva ley que era el Convenio de Roma de 1980 y se  dejó el asunto en el limbo, aun conscientes de ello. De ahí el título de este artículo.

Para evitar la confusión que en este punto se genero por la anterior LAT 42/1998, la nueva LAT 4/2012 hace expresa mención de la posibilidad de contratos de aprovechamiento por turno conforme al Reglamento CE Roma I, que sustituye aquella otra norma de la Unión Europea que es el Convenio de Roma de 1.980.

Resultado de imagen de IMAGENES CONSEJO DE ESTADO ESPAÑA

Fachada  Sede del Consejo de EStado

Disconforme A.N.E.T-C con el anteproyecto, se solicitó en legal forma audiencia al Consejo de Estado para que se tuvieren en cuenta sus alegaciones (las únicas por otra parte, ya que ninguna otra organización solicitó esa audiencia).

Sin duda esas alegaciones de esta organización empresarial fueron en parte recogidas en el informe del Consejo de Estado, del que reseñamos algunos de sus puntos, sin perjuicio de que se pueda comprobar su texto completo en el siguiente enlace:

https://www.boe.es/buscar/doc.php?id=CE-D-1997-1123&lang=es

Una de las consideraciones del Consejo de Estado en su dictamen se refiere a las “Conclusiones de la Comisión Especial  para la determinación, estudio y propuesta de solución de los problemas planteados en la aplicación del Ordenamiento Jurídico y Económico cuando dice:

Escudo del Consejo de Estado

Resultado de imagen de IMAGENES CONSEJO DE ESTADO ESPAÑA

(textual del Dictamen lo transcrito en cursiva)

Primero.- Contenido del Anteproyecto. El Anteproyecto remitido a la consideración de este Supremo Órgano Consultivo, fechado el 7 de febrero de 1997, se inicia con una Exposición de Motivos,…se inclina por la fórmula “derechos de aprovechamiento por turno”, por entenderla más genérica y descriptiva y plenamente ajustada a la regulación diseñada. – En segundo lugar, la opción por una única fórmula o por una pluralidad de ellas, optando la Exposición de Motivos por la primera posibilidad, al entender que las restantes fórmulas que existen en la práctica se rigen convencionalmente por ordenamientos extranjeros y no se adaptan a figuras reconocidas en nuestro Derecho

..insistiendo en que la mayor protección del consumidor a que se dirige no puede hacer olvidar que la proyectada Ley está vinculada con el orden público inmobiliario …

Aún remitiéndonos al completo Dictamen del Consejo de Estado, extraemos los siguientes párrafos.

Por otra parte, y en lo que concierne a la posibilidad de que se constituyan aprovechamientos por turno al margen de las previsiones del Anteproyecto, la Memoria estima que será escasamente utilizada, puesto que la explotación económica de ese tipo de aprovechamientos requiere que sus titulares puedan intercambiarlos por aprovechamientos en otros inmuebles, lo que sólo es factible en la práctica cuando contratan con empresas especialmente solventes y actuantes en el ámbito de la más estricta legalidad.

Obviamente ese aserto era antes ajeno a la realidad del sector y lo siguió siendo todo el tiempo en que la LAT 42/1998 estuvo en vigor.- Pero entonces, ¿en que se basaban los redactores del anteproyecto para afirmar esto?.- Pues simplemente en apreciaciones personales al margen de cualquier conocimiento de la realidad de esta industria, más allá del doctrinal.

Tercero.- Audiencia ante este Consejo. Antes de que el expediente tuviese entrada en este Consejo en el estado anteriormente extractado, …… presentó, el 18 de febrero de 1997 y en su condición de Presidente de la Asociación Nacional de Empresarios de Tiempo Compartido (A.N.E.T.C.), un escrito en el que solicitó que se concediese audiencia a la referida entidad. A propuesta de la Sección 2ª, se accedió a tal solicitud, lo que dio lugar a que, el 13 de marzo de 1997, el Sr. …… presentase un escrito de alegaciones.

Creemos que el Dictamen del Consejo de Estado muestra las carencias del proceso que concluyó en la Ley 42/1998 y uno de ellos sin duda ha sido la deficiente regulación de los regímenes legales de derecho personal en el que sin duda se pueden configurar los derechos de aprovechamiento por turno o “tiempo compartido”

Hubiese bastado para ello saber cual era la realidad del tiempo compartido en aquellas fechas, basados no en opiniones personales, sino un profundo y serio estudio de lo que era esa realidad.

Continúa el Dictamen del Consejo de estado diciendo:

-sobre la base de derechos de carácter real y derechos personales-, sostiene que ese sector de actividad económica no presenta especiales conflictos, resume las conclusiones que alcanzó a propósito de su regulación la denominada Comisión Especial para la determinación, estudio y propuesta de solución de los problemas planteados en la aplicación del Ordenamiento Jurídico Económico – creada por un Acuerdo del Consejo de Ministros de 13 de enero de 1995-, postula que se reconozca la necesaria autonomía de la voluntad y libertad de contratación en la configuración jurídica de los derechos derivados del “tiempo compartido” y formula diversas observaciones concretas al Anteproyecto de Ley.

C O N S I D E R A C I O N E S A la vista de los anteriores antecedentes, el Consejo de Estado formula las siguientes consideraciones: Primera…

Pasando a analizar la tramitación que se le ha dado, se observa que el expediente se reduce al texto del Anteproyecto y a una Memoria justificativa (punto segundo de antecedentes). Tan escueto contenido resulta sorprendente si se recuerda el carácter novedoso de la regulación que el Anteproyecto pretende incorporar “ex novo” a nuestro Derecho. Esa novedad parecería exigir, en efecto, un cuidadoso estudio y elaboración de la regulación que se proyecta aprobar, con la consiguiente recopilación de regulaciones comparadas, posiciones doctrinales, informaciones estadísticas y evaluaciones económicas del sector y demás aspectos relevantes

La omisión de tales antecedentes es especialmente sorprendente en este caso, puesto que, a raíz de la audiencia concedida a A.N.E.T.C. (punto tercero de antecedentes), han quedado reflejados en el expediente -siquiera de forma indirecta- algunos datos sumamente importantes, tales como son: – El hecho de que la materia abordada por el Anteproyecto fue expresamente tratada por una Comisión designada por el Gobierno de la Nación para estudiar y proponer soluciones en relación con el denominado “Ordenamiento Jurídico Económico”, de la que nada se dice en el Anteproyecto y Memoria remitidos a este Consejo. Con independencia de los criterios de fondo por ella propugnados, la citada Comisión destacó la necesidad de regular tal materia y propuso que el oportuno régimen se elaborase por una Comisión mixta en la que se integrasen representantes de los Ministerios de Justicia y de Economía y Hacienda. Pues bien, el Anteproyecto y la Memoria sometidos a dictamen de este Consejo tampoco contienen información alguna al respecto, impidiendo conocer si esa fórmula organizativa se siguió y, en tal caso, cuáles fueron los trabajos que alumbró o si, por el contrario, fue desechada y, en tal eventualidad, las razones que llevaron a inclinarse por otro método de trabajo y cuál fue éste y sus resultados.

– La aparentemente fácil disponibilidad de abundantes datos estadísticos, económicos y jurídicos sobre la materia a que se refiere el Anteproyecto, lo que contrasta con el ya apuntado escueto contenido del expediente. El resultado final de todo ello es que las actuaciones remitidas a este Consejo no contienen los datos que deben figurar en un expediente dirigido a preparar un texto normativo de la importancia del Anteproyecto. En tales circunstancias, la decisión normalmente procedente hubiera sido devolver el expediente para que se completara con los datos anteriormente apuntados. Si se ha prescindido de tal solución, ha sido solamente por la urgencia que esa regulación tiene a la vista del calendario de transposición de la Directiva europea con la que está parcialmente vinculada. En todo caso, y tal y como tendrá ocasión de destacarse, muchas de las apreciaciones que se efectúan en el presente dictamen están afectadas por esa falta de documentación y carecen de la plenitud de juicio que les sería exigible en otro caso. Para concluir esta consideración de índole procedimental, y a la vista de las carencias anteriormente detectadas, el expediente ahora examinado brinda una buena ocasión para insistir en que el proceso formativo de las leyes y, muy especialmente de las que abordan materias tan importantes como la ahora examinada, exige una adecuada preparación y disciplina, que van desde la elección de los diversos órganos llamados a intervenir en los trabajos a acometer, hasta la definición de los trámites que deben seguirse, pasando por la reunión de todos los materiales necesarios (regulaciones comparadas, datos distintivos -sociológicos, económicos, humanos,…- de la materia en cuestión, estudios acerca de la mejor forma de incardinar la proyectada regulación en nuestro Derecho,…), con la convicción de que los esfuerzos que se dediquen a ese proceso formativo redundarán en el progreso y perfeccionamiento de nuestro Ordenamiento Jurídico..

. Por ello, este Consejo estima que la comentada doble opción de principio del Anteproyecto sólo debería efectivamente prosperar después de comprobarse detenidamente que es la única forma de abordar la materia a que aquél se refiere. Por el contrario, en el caso de que se llegase a la conclusión de que ese sector admite diversas soluciones, y aun en el caso de que se siguiese sosteniendo que la contenida en el actual Anteproyecto es la mejor, este último debería abrirse a una pluralidad de fórmulas, dejando un margen de libre apreciación a sus destinatarios. Encuadrada así la cuestión, saltan a primera vista algunas importantes lagunas dentro del muy parco material incorporado al expediente ahora examinado, cuales son: – En primer lugar, la ausencia de toda información precisa acerca de la materia a que se refiere el Anteproyecto. Prácticamente la única información que brindan al respecto la Exposición de Motivos y Memoria del Anteproyecto es su afirmación de que España ocupa el segundo lugar en el mundo en lo que se refiere a número de complejos inmobiliarios explotados sobre la base de esos aprovechamientos concurrentes.

Pese al silencio del expediente al respecto, no cabe pasar por alto las alegaciones efectuadas y la documentación aportada por A.N.E.T.C. (punto tercero de antecedentes), que dan cuenta de que existe una considerable diversidad entre los regímenes de aprovechamientos inmobiliarios concurrentes que actualmente existen en nuestro país y de que una amplia mayoría de los constituidos están configurados sobre la base de derechos personales. Resulta igualmente relevante que una especial Comisión constituida por el Gobierno de la Nación para estudiar los problemas del Ordenamiento Jurídico Económico se haya inclinado por regular esos aprovechamientos reconociendo la doble posibilidad de basarlos en derechos reales o personales y que ese nítido pronunciamiento haya sido desechado por el Anteproyecto sin ofrecer explicación alguna.

Todas esas lagunas determinan que la presente consulta – dice el Dictamen- debe formarse sin conocer un muy importante grupo de circunstancias especialmente relevantes. Pues bien, teniendo bien presente esa reserva y atendiendo a la vocación eminentemente turística y vacacional y a la muy relevante proyección del sector hacia no residentes, estima el Consejo de Estado que la regulación “ex novo” de un especial régimen de aprovechamiento de bienes inmuebles por turno debería incluir la doble posibilidad de seguir esquemas jurídico- reales o fórmulas jurídico-personales.

Este es un artículo de opinión de quien suscribe.

Francisco J. Lizarza – Lizarza Abogados

Tourism: the key of the Spanish Economy

ICONO PEQUEÑA BRITANICATourism has been the key driver of the recovery of the Spanish economy and employment generation

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Tourism in 2015 has been the main factor generating income and employment in Spain, driving for the third consecutive year the recovery of the Spanish economy. This has resulted in: 0.5 points of additional growth of Spanish GDP, thanks to 5,600 million euros for the largest tourist activity generated in 2015, which has allowed us to close the year with an estimated 124 billion Euros overall. This represents 11.7% of the Spanish GDP.

Tourism GDP finally closed 2015 with a 3.7% Growth

The remarkable pull of tourist activity during October, November and December 2015, led by a strong growth in the foreign demand, increases the annual growth of tourism GDP in the last quarter to 4.0%.

Such a behavior, better than expected for the fourth quarter leads us to review upwards one tenth on the growth of the tourism GDP for the whole 2015 up to 3.7%. This means half a point above the GDP growth in the Spanish economy and to approach the maximum tourism growth rates from the last decade achieved in 2006.

Spanish tourism entrepreneurs raise their sales and improve their results in 2015.

The strong increase in activity and a gradual recovery on the prices, has allowed 84.7% of the Spanish tourism companies to improve their sales in 2015, with a percentage of 56.0%, where the improvement is over 5%.

This increase on the sales, combined with the outcome of the operational efficiency policies implemented in the years of crisis and the significant reduction in energy and financial costs during 2015, has led to a significant improvement in margins and final results for 83.4% of Spanish tourism companies.

So far the business improvements perceived in 2015 yields the best results since 2002 when we started with this survey.

SOURCE: EXCERLTUR