One Year Late – Spain Adopts the New Timeshare Directive

RDO is pleased to announce that on 16th March 2012 the Spanish government passed the ‘new’ European Timeshare Directive into national law. The law, the “ Ley de Contratos de aprovechamiento por turno de bienes de uso turístico, de adquisición de productos vacacionales de larga duración, de reventa y de intercambio”, comes into force the day following its publication in the Official State Bulletin (possibly the week commencing 19 March) and all timeshare companies will need to ensure they are in full compliance by this date.

The government, which was only elected in November of last year, took urgent steps to ensure that the law was adopted as quickly as possible to avoid fines threatened by the European Commission and passed this legislation by means of a Royal Decree, a process that avoided further lengthy parliamentary processes.

The Directive is of maximum harmonisation, meaning that Member States cannot make any changes to a number of elements, including the following:

  • A 14 day cooling off period
  • An absolute ban on deposits
  • The contract must be provided in the language of the purchaser as long as it is a language of the EU
  • Detailed information of the product must be provided, again in the language of the purchaser

There is, however, the possibility to add on to the legislation – for instance the UK included a number of new criminal offences – and in Spain, there are a number of variations that should be noted:

  • Spain has repeated the provisions of the earlier law of 42/98 in respect of how a timeshare project can be structured but unlike that earlier law it is no longer the only format that can be used. The effect of Rome I is recognised allowing other structures to be employed
  • The required pre contractual information may be published on the company’s own website or on the website of its trade body
  • Trade bodies will promote their codes of conduct and will provide relevant information, on request, to members of the public

Francisco Lizarza, RDO’s Chairman in Spain and head of the Spanish lobby group commented “This new law sweeps away the confusion that has existed in Spain over the past year and timeshare companies can finally make the appropriate adjustments to their operations”. He added, “The law will help boost consumer confidence in Spain, the most popular timeshare market in Europe, where almost half of European owners have chosen to buy”.

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