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Top judges to seek agreement on Spain mortgage law

Source: El Pais - Sun 21st Apr 2013
Top judges to seek agreement on Spain mortgage law

Justices from Spain's higher courts will convene on May 8 to find a common way to deal with home evictions, ahead of a mortgage law reform triggered by a European decision.

Following the EU Court of Justice's March appraisal of Spanish mortgage legislation as "unfair to consumers" because it prevents judges from investigating allegations of abusive clauses, courts across the country have been struggling to come up with their own interpretations of this verdict while Congress readies its reform bill.

Depending on the city, courts currently reviewing eviction cases may postpone the procedure if judges feel abusive clauses exist. To bring some order into all these initiatives, the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) has called a meeting of justices to produce common criteria. The guidelines will not be binding, but the oversight body hopes to prevent wildly differing interpretations of Luxembourg's decision. One of the key issues will be determining when punitive charges for late payment are abusive. Another will be how long a court can delay an eviction.

The issue of home repossessions has become a major concern in a country with very high home ownership rates and soaring unemployment. In the last three years, the number of foreclosure claims reaching the courts nearly quadrupled, according to the CGPJ. In the first half of 2012, evictions rose 14% compared with the same period in 2011. There have been over 350,000 evictions in the last 4 years.