On January 1, 2018, Law 3/2017, of February 15, of the sixth book of the Civil Code of Catalonia,relating to obligations and contracts, came into force, since with this law there are different situations to take into account when we are faced with a purchase and sale agreement signed in Catalonia, either for a property or for a vehicle, for example, as well as for the obligations of the seller and the buyer.
Before developing the main novelties, it is necessary to start from the premise that with this Catalan law, significant differences are established with respect to state regulations in various aspects, such as the deadlines and actions in case the object sold has defects, being that in all contracts that have been signed in Catalonia from January 2018 onwards, we must comply with the Law 3/2017, of February 15, of the sixth book of the Civil Code of Catalonia and leave aside the Civil Code state.
Regarding the SELLER's obligations, we have to state that according to the Catalan Civil Code it establishes new obligations, and among them:
- Obligation to deliver the property and to transmit its ownership as well as its accessories. The difference that we find with the Civil Code is that it only obliges the seller to deliver the determined thing, that is to say to transmit the possession, but not its ownership.
- The seller must provide the buyer with relevant information on the characteristics of the property and to act in accordance with good faith and the honesty of the deals.
- Deliver, in the time, place and manner to determine in the contract, the property, its accessories and related documents in its case. The seller must deliver the goods without undue delay if a term has not been agreed or if the delivery time cannot be determined otherwise.
- That the property object of the sale is in accordance with the contract, since this point replaces the well-known concept "sanitation by eviction" or "sanitation for defects or hidden charges" (commonly known as hidden defects) that are included in the regulations state. In other words, in Catalonia the legal concept of “sanitation for hidden defects” disappears and the concept of conformity in the contract replaces it.
The Responsibility of the vendor
The vendor will respond per the faults of conformity that the sold good presents (being a car, a house, etc.) and for those defects that it presents and that were not informed to the buyer, even if they were known or not by the vendor.
As an exception to the previous rule, the seller will not respond for the lack of conformity that the buyer knows, or that could not reasonably be ignored at the time of signing the contract, except in cases of wilful concealment, gross negligence or express guarantee of conformity . For this, the buyer is required to examine the delivered goods within the agreed period or in the shortest possible time.
As for the notification of the lack of conformity, that is, if the buyer realizes that there is a defect in what he has purchased, he must inform the seller without undue delay, that is, as soon as possible, being that in consumer purchases and sales the term will be at least 2 months.
As a temporary limit to the seller's responsibility, it should be noted that the vendor will not be liable for defects or non-conformity in the contract that may appear 2 years after the time of delivery of the good, unless otherwise agreed or unless the contract results otherwise. This is one of the great differences with the regulation of the state civil code, since while for the regulation of the state civil code, the action for hidden defects would expire six months after the acquisition of the property, in Catalan regulation, the buyer may claim lack of conformity in the acquired that manifests itself in the two years immediately following the sale.
As for the BUYER's obligations, these are specified in paying the price and receiving the good with its accessories and documents.
What solutions can be derived if the vehicle, the house or the object sold is not in accordance with the contract and presents anomalies or defects when it has been delivered?
The solutions are what the Catalan legislation denominates as “remedies” and consist in the following:
- Require compliance with the contract which in the case of the buyer will include the repair or replacement of the non-conforming property.
- Suspend the payment of the price or, in the case of the seller, the fulfilment of its obligations.
- Resolve the contract.
- Reduce the price, in the case of the buyer.
- Claim compensation for damages.
In other words, while state legislation only allowed the action of hidden defects to either reduce the price or contract termination, it should be seen that the Catalan legislation tries to prioritize that the contract is fulfilled, and hence it foresees all the above options; therefore, at first you should use the remedy for the repair, and only if it is not possible, make use of the other remedies.
Finally, it should be noted that the claims and actions in order to achieve the above solutions are extinguished within a period of 3 years as a general rule.
Do you have doubts? Have you bought a car or house in Catalonia with any defect, anomaly or breakdown? Our office can help you. Contact our office or use one of our online legal services.