One of the island’s main newspapers (Diario de Avisos) published an article last Sunday, 22 January 2023, about the alarming increase in the number of fake lawyers (false lawyers) in southern Tenerife.
The number of complaints of professional intrusion in real estate transactions, immigration procedures and inheritance is growing; most of the victims are foreign citizens resident in the region.
The majority of cases of intrusion are concentrated in tourist areas and affect, above all, the field of real estate transactions.
The Santa Cruz de Tenerife Bar Association warns of an “alarming” increase in recent months of cases of professional intrusion in the south of the island, affecting real estate transactions, immigration procedures, inheritance cases and liability claims. These illegal practices, carried out by untrained and technically unsound people who have not obtained the necessary academic qualifications, are causing a “notable social impact”, which can be seen in the increase in the number of people affected, many of whom are foreigners who have moved to the south of the island and have seen their assets damaged.
The fake lawyers act under the guise of legality, representing an entity or individually, and offer their services as lawyers, advisors or “gestores”. In most cases, they take advantage of their clients’ vulnerability due to their lack of language skills. In fact, most of the complaints received by the Bar Association about these irregular practices correspond to citizens of different nationalities living in the southern part of the island.
The provincial bar of lawyers association receives the most complaints about the purchase and sale of houses and flats, as well as the processing of documents for foreigners, and reminds that in order to practice law, it is obligatory to obtain a law degree, pass the state exam and register with a professional association of lawyers in the country. In case of doubt, it also recommends consulting the website of the General Council of Spanish Lawyers (Consejo General de la Abogacía Española) , where there is a census of practising lawyers throughout the country.
According to this newspaper, some services are advertised on the Internet as “legal and tax advice on the purchase and sale of homes and inheritance”, they advertise themselves as “independent law firms” and claim to collaborate with the “government authorities to guarantee the best possible service”. The logos of different organisations appear in the advertisement, including the logos of the Canary Islands Government and the Tax Agency.
The experts consulted point out that the crime of professional intrusion in the legal profession is currently gaining special significance and underline the “dangerousness” of this practice, as protected legal assets are at stake. Article 403.2 of the Penal Code establishes prison sentences of six months to two years. The Bar Association has launched several campaigns to raise awareness of the need to hire the services of practising lawyers and thus guarantee the rights, interests and assets of clients.
Source: Diario de Avisos