June 14th, 2024 | 4:46

Bilbao

Court number 15 of Bilbao condemns Kutxabank to return mortgage expenses

Mairenis Gomez

May 22, 2024 | 11:18 a.m.

Court ruling in favor of consumers

The Court of First Instance number 15 of Bilbao has issued a historic ruling in which it condemns Kutxabank to pay almost 1.400 euros to a user for the costs of formalizing a mortgage canceled almost 30 years ago, in 1997. Judge Paula Boix Sampedro has declared void the clause that imposed all these expenses on the affected party and has resolved that the period to request reimbursement and interest had not expired, contrary to what was argued by the bank.

Details of the court ruling

The ruling handed down by Judge Boix Sampedro establishes the "nullity of the clause imposing the costs of formalizing and establishing the mortgage loan deed of October 6, 1992, condemning the defendant to pay the plaintiffs 50 % of the notary expenses and 100% of the registration, management and/or appraisal expenses, if applicable, paid plus the legal interest from the date of payment.

Kutxabank has proceeded to pay the user 1.386 euros, which includes 555 euros for the costs of formalizing the mortgage and 831 euros in legal interest accumulated to date. In addition, the bank has been ordered to pay the costs of the judicial procedure.

Background of the case

Marta U., a resident of Bilbao, formalized a mortgage loan contract with the Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa bank—currently Kutxabank—in 1992 for the purchase of her home. The mortgage included a clause that imposed all the costs of formalizing the loan on Marta. Marta finished paying her mortgage in 1997. However, in 2020, she discovered that various Supreme Court rulings had ruled that imposing the entire formalization costs on consumers could be considered abusive.

Claim and refusal of the bank

After learning of these rulings, Marta decided to claim from Kutxabank the nullity of said clause and the reimbursement of the formalization expenses, updated with the corresponding interest. Kutxabank did not respond to her complaints, which led Marta to go to FACUA Euskadi in January 2021 for assistance in demanding reimbursement.

FACUA Euskadi's legal team approached Kutxabank on two occasions to urge it to declare the clause null and void and return the extra money paid. However, Kutxabank refused to address the claim, arguing that the deadline for requesting reimbursement had expired.

Lawsuit and favorable ruling

Given the bank's refusal, FACUA Euskadi filed a lawsuit on behalf of Marta, arguing that the limitation period begins to run from the moment the clause is declared null and void by a court, not from the signing of the mortgage nor from the moment the payment is completed. . Kutxabank agreed with regard to the nullity of the clause, but maintained that it should not reimburse the money due to the expiration of the claim period.

The Court of First Instance number 15 of Bilbao rejected Kutxabank's arguments, declaring the clause null and void as abusive and condemning the bank to return to Marta what was paid for the mortgage expenses plus interest, considering that no deadline had expired to claim them.

Importance of the sentence

This ruling is a significant precedent for other consumers who find themselves in similar situations. FACUA is processing numerous complaints from users who have or had mortgages in the past, and has established a platform for those affected to channel them. According to a recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the 15-year period to claim mortgage expenses does not begin to count until the consumer has a final ruling declaring the clause null and void.

Marta U.'s victory underscores the importance of consumers knowing their rights and being willing to fight for them, even if the process is long and complicated. The ruling reinforces the commitment of consumer organizations and justice to protect citizens against abusive banking practices.

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