A judgement of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) of 10th January has condemned Spain for a violation of article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the right to a fair trial, in a case involving the owners of an apartment in Sanxenxo, Galicia who were not informed of legal proceedings to revoke the planning permission for their property thus denying them an opportunity to defend their interests. The proceedings resulted in a demolition order.
Welcoming the decision the homeowners association AUAN said that it hopes that this ruling will open the way to the annulment of many similar proceedings and points out that in any case this judgement sends the message to the Spanish courts to place an emphasis on the protection of third parties in good faith, and the necessity to respect their legitimate rights.
It is also a timely judgement, according to AUAN, given that the Spanish Supreme Court has been asked to interpret a change to legislation brought about by the homeowners associations, a change to Article 108.3 of the Ley de la Jurisdicción Contencioso-Administrativa (LJCA), as a result of a challenge mounted by Town Halls in Cantabria facing large compensation payments to third parties as a result of administrative failings that resulted in demolition orders against properties purchased by homeowners in good faith.
AUAN adds that this injustice, now highlighted by the ECHR, has been denounced again and again in all corners of the Spanish legal system by the associations, who cannot understand how anyone can be punished by the threat of demolition or indeed the demolition of their home when they have not themselves been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
AUANs president, Maura Hillen MBE, commenting on the ruling said “We welcome this ruling as a vindication for homeowners but I also note with some sadness that this judgement of 10th January 2017 comes 9 years and 1 day after the demolition of the home of Helen and Len Prior in Vera on 9th January 2008 without compensation. Their day of justice has yet to come”.