„Clausula suelo“ – What is that?

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For some time now, the Spanish newspapers and media report on the so called „Clausulo suelo“ and that in Spain there are some 1.5 million affected people. But what is it exactly?

The „Clausula suelo“ is a contract clause in mortage contracts with a variable interest rate. The clause determines that the banks can charge a minimum interest rate to the client, even if the benchmark interest rate is lower or negative. Therefore it is a unilateral clause favouring the banks and in disadvantage to the consumers.

Out of this reason, the Spanish High Court (Tribunal Supremo) declared those contractual clauses null and void in the year 2013. However, the sentence limited the bank’s obligation to repay the illegally obtained interest to the time after the sentence.

On December 21st 2016 the European Court of Justice decided, that said limitation is illegal, as well. In consequence the banks now have the obligation to repay all illegally obtain interest plus the interests generated thereof. Since then several Spanish courts ruled to the disadvantage of the banks condemning them to bear the trial costs too.

In January of this year, the Spanish government put in place a law giving the banks the opportunity to reach an extrajudicial agreements with their clients on this matter within a period of three months. If the affected client were not to agree with the bank’s proposal, they still could reclaim everything through the consumer centre or their own lawyer.

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