Olive Press reporter Katherine Brook sat down with one of Spain’s best lawyers, Diego Echavarria, to discuss how he’s helped over 50 people who were victims of the floor clause claim back hundreds of thousands of pounds, as well as what problems Brits are currently facing in the country.
Tell us a bit about yourself Diego?
I was brought up in Madrid, which is where I studied to become a lawyer, splitting my time between there and Germany.
I moved to Marbella in 2001 and then set up my own company, Fairway Lawyers, in 2006.
I specialise in being an English speaking lawyer, and Marbella’s a great place for international clients. Most of my clients are from the UK, at least 95%, and the rest are from countries like Sweden and Russia.
A lot of your most recent cases have been related to the floor clause, why is this such a big problem?
The floor clause was inserted into mortgages between 2001 and 2010, and it meant that mortgage payments could never fall below 3% or 4%, so people ended up paying a lot more than they should have been.
On a mortgage of €100,000, that’s €200 to €300 a month and some people have been paying this since 2010 – which is a lot of money.
Unfortunately, a lot of Brits weren’t aware of it and were overpaying.
Thousands of people are still owed money. Even if you’ve long sold your villa and paid off the mortgage you are still entitled to compensation.
How many mortgages had the floor clause in during the 10-year period?
Around 90% of mortgages had this clause.
How much do people generally claim back?
The average claim across my clients is around €20,000. However, in one case, my client was able to recover €50,000 and now all his future payments will also be reduced to the correct amount.
How many floor clause victories have you had?
So far, we’ve won every single case – 49 in total. But we’ve got over 100 cases in court at the moment.
Which banks are the worst offenders?
Unicaja, Banco Santander, Sabadell, Banco Popular, and many old savings banks.
What other areas do Fairway Lawyers work in?
We can help clients with a variety of issues including real estate, sales, inheritance, and immigration. Of course, since Brexit, we have seen a lot of our clients struggle to get residency cards.
It’s something that gets harder and harder the longer you leave it. But there are ways.
What are some of the other big issues Brits are facing at the moment?
Inheritance. With the pandemic, there have been a lot of unexpected deaths and many of them didn’t have a will in place, making things very difficult. In the UK, the law is different and if they didn’t have one in Spain, it makes it very complicated. We can help, and again, there are ways around it, but it does take time.
Fairway Lawyers has taken on numerous floor clause cases since 2010 and has a 99% success rate with clients through the courts… and it is NO WIN, NO FEE with the company only taking 10% of the compensation if settled out of court and 20% if it goes to court.
And, as Diego points out, even if you’ve long sold your villa and paid off the mortgage you are still entitled to compensation plus interest.
Think your mortgage has a floor clause? Get in contact with the team Fairway lawyers and they’ll be able to give you immediate advice. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 00 34 952 771 150 or 00 34 606 307 885.