With the ending of the transition period and the rush for UK citizens to apply for residencia and purchase or rent a property in Spain, I wanted to take this opportunity to write about the difference between lawyers (Abogados) and any other advisers or consultants here in Spain?
Regular readers will know that i have been around the proverbial block a few times as a lawyer over the last 30 years and as Consul for Denmark. During all this time I have seen a considerable number of complaints about companies or people who claim to be lawyers but who are not legally qualified to be called that and give advice under the name of advisers, consultant or some other name.
It is right to say that the EU regulation of free services, allows anyone to provide services in this area without asking for a degree or qualifications, but some of these professions, such as lawyers or doctors, are ruled by the law and have ethical codes which force the professionals who are practicing to be registered at an official association., this is true in the case of the lawyers, Solicitors (abogados) such as myself,
A number of people have had some bad experiences with so called lawyers here in Spain which in some cases could have been avoided if you they had instructed properly registered Spanish lawyers.
When instructing a lawyer to act in your behalf you need a properly registered lawyer in the Spanish Bar association (Colegio de abogados). Someone who is registered at the Spanish bar association and has to follow the code of ethics and has indemnity insurance just in case they give advice which proves to the negligent.
What you need to do when instructing a lawyer in Spain is to get the the Spanish Bar Association registration number in writing that way you can check and be assured that you are being represented by a registered lawyer who is able to practice law in Spain. If you are given a fake number this is a criminal offence in Spain. Someone may have all the necessary certificates but they may have been struck off by the Bar Association and it is necessary to check their number with the Bar Association.
A foreign European lawyer can be registered at a Bar Association in Spain but they can only give legal advice re the laws of their own home country. To give advice on Spanish law they must have a Spanish law degree or have completed a conversion process. Beware of Consultants, Legal advisors and the like, lawyers have sat exams and are properly regulated to ensure that they give correct legal advice.
You may see lawyers here describing themselves as ‘Solicitors’ this is the closest translation of ‘Abogado’ here in Spain. You should make sure you get their bar registration number. Is is advisable to put a little effort into choosing your own lawyer and completing your own due diligence so as to avoid a potential disaster further down the line. Thankfully cases of professional negligence are rare but sadly they do exist here in Spain just like other countries. Also if you do instruct someone who is backed by professional indemnity insurance, you have the possibility of being paid damages for their error.
Marisa Moreno Consul for Denmark & Senior Lawyer and owner and founder of Just Law Solicitors.