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Lawyer's error on Notary deeds at completion
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Joined: Jul 25, 2015
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:06 pm 
Post subject: Lawyer's error on Notary deeds at completion
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After believing I had land with my off plan property for several years, I have just discovered that the land was mortgaged to a bank by the developer a short time before the purchase was completed.

A lawyer was engaged to assist in the purchase after the signing of the preliminary contract but well before the final payment was made to the developer.

Surely this Lawyer who had my POA and went to Notary to finalise the purchase was responsible for checking the ownership of the land before the sale took place?

Any advise on what action I can take would be appreciated.
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Golden Oldie
Golden Oldie

Joined: Feb 21, 2012
Posts: 6500

Location: Sofia, Dupnitsa, Lincs

PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:16 pm 
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The first thing you need to do is to clarify exactly what it is that you bought, as opposed to what you thought/assumed/were told that you were getting.

Presumably this is a house rather than an apartment? I ask that because some apartments do come with a "real" part of the land which a complex etc is built on, rather than an "ideal" part; owners of apartments in stand-alone blocks generally don't own any of the land they're built on. The mortgaging land trick is VERY common here, by the way - the notary is supposed to check for that but often doesn't (or didn't, it's rather better nowadays) due to indolence - or in return for a bung to be "forgetful".

The next question is what exactly is in the preliminary contract and does it differ in any material way from your notary deed, which should specify all parcels of land included in your purchase, together with the cadastral identifiers of each of them?

Finally, what exactly was in the POA you signed to allow your lawyer to act for you? If you didn't specify - as most people don't, because they fondly imagine that it's too obvious to need spelling out - exactly what the lawyer could and couldn't do, you were giving him/her carte blanche to scratch an X on anything relating to the purchase and for it to have the same effect as you yourself signing it in full knowledge of what you were agreeing to. You'd be on a hiding to nothing if there's nothing in writing detailing the land which you thought was part of the deal.

As an aside, be aware - if you aren't already - that Bulgarian courts are almost literally a law unto themselves, and are noted for making rules up as they go along. Any legal wrangles here usually make Jarndyce v Jarndyce look like Judge Judy on a roll in terms of speed and a bargain in terms of cost.

Complaints against lawyers, assuming that they're actually part of the local Bar Association in the first place, are almost futile: they'll claim that there were misunderstandings due to language, differing expectations of a foreign legal system etc, and of course closing ranks is normal here. Unless it's something that is costing you a LOT of money you'll quite certainly wish you'd never started any action against your lawyer, if you're tempted to go down that path...
Passer sa vie à lutter contre la connerie est le meilleur procédé pour mourir épuisé
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Joined: Jul 25, 2015
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 4:55 pm 
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It is a house and I am one amongst many owners at a complex where different Lawyers have done the same thing to other owners. All of our land is currently being auctioned by the Bailiff as agricultural land (although I doubt anyone but me would want my garden!).

I will definitely be checking the original POA as well as email threads etc..

As you say I may be throwing good money after bad in pursuing this, but as a collective of owners it might be worth looking into.

Many thanks for this sound advice Seedy.
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Golden Oldie
Golden Oldie

Joined: Feb 21, 2012
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Location: Sofia, Dupnitsa, Lincs

PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 7:14 pm 
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It may also be that no-one is necessarily specifically "at fault" here - This situation might be of interest - or perhaps concern might be a better word.

If I were you I'd be looking askance at the sale of "gardens" as agricultural land; if these are new-builds then the gardens are likely to be be either already "in regulation" (ie can be built on) or at least easy to bring into regulation. It could well be the case that regulated/easily regulatable land is being offered to someone's dodgy mates, either as a means to obtain a valuable asset or even as a lever to buy houses cheaply from people who don't have the time/inclination/means to fight long and costly court battles. Also, don't forget that it's usual to appeal decisions several times here.

If you're a British citizen then there might also be an issue with Brexit: if the garden isn't deemed to be yours at the moment and doesn't officially become yours until post-Brexit then you could conceivably find yourself in a situation where, as a non-EU citizen, you aren't permitted to own the land anyway. Obviously that will depend on what terms Our Tessa (or whoever's PM if/when it actually happens) manages to negotiate (or capitulate on).

The important thing is to take the time to research everything very carefully and to then take a view on what you're prepared to spend to get what you're owed (assuming that there isn't anything nasty that you've missed in some document or other). Do bear in mind that any documents in a language other than Bulgarian have no validity here, so even if you have what purports to be a word-for-word English translation it will be disregarded by a court.

If you do establish some sort of collective, keep in mind that litigation is expensive and the legal(-ish) sharks can smell blood/cash from miles away; in the final analysis, they don't care if you win or lose - they'll still get paid.... Don't get angry, don't get dispirited but do try to keep a clear head while deciding what action you want to take, and get a realistic estimate of your chances of winning from a lawyer who really knows what they're doing; this isn't something you want handled by some half-cocked incompetent looking to learn on the job!
Passer sa vie à lutter contre la connerie est le meilleur procédé pour mourir épuisé
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