Networking of Spanish businesses in Leeds








From left to right: Igor Urra, Alejandro Benavente, Antonio Guillen and Enrique Sanchez

Great event on the 5th March at La Tasca in Leeds organised by a group of businessmen in Leeds, particularly Alejandro Benavente and Blanca Gonzalez who did an excellent job organising this fabuluos event in Leeds where a group of more than 6o attendees networked and gathered to discuss the business possibilities that the North of England, and more importantly Leeds, can offer to Spanish companies or UK companies with an interest in Spain.

Igor Urra, Secretary General of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the UK attended the event as well as other business men in the Leeds area and delegates from the Spanish Language Institute (Cervantes) in Leeds.

The Honorary Consul for Liverpool, Enrique Sanchez, also attended the event showing his interest in an initiative that can easily expand to other cities in the North.

See below detailed coverage of the event by the online newspaper El Northern. Please note that the article is in Spanish!

Antonio Guillen is a dual qualified Spanish lawyer and English solicitor at DWF LLP. He is also the Honorary Consul for Spain in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire



Official inaguration of the Honorary Consulate office in Manchester

photo 5 








On Wednesday 26th February, the Consul General of Spain in Edinburgh, Mr. Miguel Utray Delgado visited the offices of DWF in Manchester in order to officially inagurate the Honorary Consulate and hand the Spanish flag, shield and seal to Antonio, who has been recently appointed as the Honorary Consul for Spain in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire.

The ceremony took place with 50 guests from different sectors and professions, most of them related to Spain as well as representatives from the Arts, Language Schools and Universities.

Antonio felt very honoured by the pressence of the Consul General and the trust received and stated that he will do his best to assist the Consulate General in Edinburgh and promote the Spanish brand in the North of the UK.

The event proved a success with many guests enjoying the company of the other guests as well as the food, the music and drinks, all with a Spanish touch and flavour.


Buying property in Barcelona

old medieval street










Barcelona is probably one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Woody Allen tried to show it in his famous film “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” although he excesively focused on the usual landmarks and buildings, forgetting that there is beauty in many other places apart from the usual constructions from Gaudi. However, it still was a good marketing tool for the city.

Property wise, Barcelona has suffered like any other city in Spain. Property prices have fallen for the last 5 years although 2013 has brought some interesting news. According to the Real Estate website , property prices in Barcelona fell by only 1%. This may look like bad news to most of you but the reality is that the forecast was for a fall of at least 7% to 8%. What has happneed then? La Vanguardia newspaper thinks that this reduction in the decline of prices is due to Foreign Buyers. In fact, the said newspaper estimates that 10% of those who buy in Barcelona are probably foreign, being Russians, Chinese and Indian the nationalities that are showing more interest in the city followed by the usual British, French and other Europeans.

One of the reasons for this increase in interest from non-European investors is the so called “Golden Visa” which grants immediate residency rights to any non-European investing more than 500,000 Euro in property in Spain. At the same time, many Foreigners look at Barcelona’s potential in the touristical rent market. The city is used for long weekend breaks, stag does, romantic breaks and many others and in most cases those travelling to Barcelona use touristical apartments rather than Hotels, being this type of accomodation an alternative with some relevant success.

So, what should you do if you are interested in buying a property in Barcelona? The first thing you should do is take a holiday in Barcelona and explore the city. Your budget and motives shoud vary depending on whether you are looking to buy a first home, a second home or an investment. Many Estate agents speak English and they should be able to point you in the right direction. Once you find a property that you like, the agent will probably ask you to pay a reservation of a few thousand euro or perhaps even a deposit. This is where the lawyer work starts and where you need to tell the agent that you will instruct your own lawyer for the transaction.  You will be told that there is no obligation to instruct a lawyer in Spain and that there is a professional called “Notary Public” who can prepare all the documentation. Yes, that is correct in a way but it is still very advisable to instruct your own lawyer in the same way that you would do in the UK.

The lawyer (abogado in Spanish and advocat in Catalan) will check all the documentation and advise you before you enter into any contracts. He will also carry out searches to check the planning situation and whether the property can be let out as a touristical apartment. You can find Spanish lawyers in Barcelona, of course, but also in the UK. It is up to you to decide which lawyer you want to use. Some investors prefer to use a Spanish lawyer based in the UK because they are regulated by the UK Law Society, others prefer to use someone local. The important thing is to instruct an independent Spanish lawyer and not to proceed with the purchase without independent advice.

Enjoy the city!!

Antonio Guillen is a dual qualified Spanish lawyer- English Solicitor from Barcelona who is currently practising in the UK.


Interview from the Law Gazzette

My legal life: Antonio Guillen

28 October 2013

Topics: Personal and professional development

Antonio Guillen


Head of foreign property, DWF, Manchester.

Watching LA Law in the late 1980s captured my attention and pushed me towards pursuing a career in law. I loved the talk, the looks and the suits. Life and a legal career then came to prove that a lawyer’s life is not always quite as glamorous, but I have never had any regrets.

My legal training took place in Spain and covered a variety of different areas of law, from property to criminal. A number of years later I also qualified as an English solicitor and found that, in spite of the differences, there are some commonalities and principles that can be applied regardless of the legal system and the jurisdiction.

As a lawyer you are occasionally required to work unsociable hours and to tight deadlines, although this is part of the job you are aware of when choosing a career in law and it adds to the variety. I never complain as my wife is a doctor and her shifts are much longer and more unsociable than mine.

There is a big difference between dealing with lawyers in the UK and lawyers in Spain, and in my daily job I deal with both. Lawyers in the UK usually prefer to communicate in writing, whereas lawyers in Spain prefer the telephone and face-to-face meetings.

I have never been keen on criminal law. I found it interesting while studying at university but I have always had a stronger passion for civil and international law, specially the latter due to my international background.

Even though I have only practised law for 15 years I have seen a big change. Technology has had a major impact on how we work and communicate, in particular it has increased the time and speed at which we can turn things around. Occasionally I miss how we used to work when I started my training; lawyers would often spend the morning in court or with clients, and the afternoons were spent learning and studying cases. On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that new technologies have proved very useful for international lawyers. The advancements have certainly made my job easier.

Specialisation is extremely useful when the economy is running well but it can be a hindrance when the times get tough. In Spain, for instance, where lawyers are less specialised, it helped individuals to survive the recession. However, in the UK, specialisation meant many lawyers were at a higher risk of redundancy because not everyone was able to rebrand as a specialist in a new area of law.

The future of the Spanish property market

A year ago I was asked to write an article for The Manchester Law Society Messenger on the situation of the Spanish property market. In that article, I explained that the situation was pretty grim with property prices due to fall and more building companies and developers to bite the dust. 

On 17th November, RR de Acuña & Asociados, a prestigious firm of property analysts, released its annual report which, as expected, continued to paint a worrying picture of the Spanish property market. According to the said firm of analysts, there is still a big difference in the property market between offer and demand. The current stock of properties in the market continues to be in the region of 1.5 million. This is extremely high compared to what the current demand requires.  If we consider that the annual demand in Spain is just for 240,000 to 280,000 properties, then is obvious that the current stock will need a minimum of 5 years to be absorbed.

The report confirms what most people already know: the Spanish property market will not show signs of recovery until at least 2015 and although some signs of recovery will be detected in certain areas by 2013, the general picture is that Spain’s property market as a whole will suffer a gradual fall with property prices falling a further 20% between now and 2015, reaching the values of 2003 and 2004.

With an unemployment rate of 20% and a credit crunch in line with most of continental Europe, Spain and, therefore, its property market will not recover until Europe recovers first, especially considering that Spain’s main economic engines are tourism, construction and the car industry, which largely depend on purchases from Europe.

Interestingly, the report also states that any person who wants to sell a property fairly quickly in Spain should reduce the price in 30%. Otherwise, that person will struggle to sell the property in a market saturated of properties as the Spanish one.

As forecasted in my previous article of a year ago, banks have become the new kings of the real estate market as they have been repossessing properties for the last 2 years and are now feeling the pressure to put those properties on the market and recover part of the losses crystallised with the repossession. Spanish developers will be unable to compete with the banks as the latter will offer their repossessed properties with a 100% finance in order to get rid of those properties and get better figures in their balances.

Bearing in mind the above, what should a British purchaser do? If someone is cash privileged, then there are plenty of opportunities out there. It would be better to avoid saturated coast resorts and look for properties in places with a strong demand from both locals and foreigners. Places like Barcelona, San Sebastian or Madrid can prove a wise investment if the price is right as they usually have a rental demand from locals and foreigners. However, many property owners in those areas have resisted making considerable reductions in prices and the British buyer will rarely see the same discounts that he or she could see in other areas of Spain. Those interested in buying a property in Spain need to bear in mind that Spain is a big country and the property market is not the same in every region. Although the majority of property prices will fall, expensive properties in privileged areas will hold their value better than the rest of the market so do not try to pull a 30% discount on every single property you fancy because you may end up upsetting the seller.

The only positive thing about this property crisis (if we can call it positive) is the selection process that is affecting most of the construction field. It is estimated that more than 40% of Spanish developers are in red numbers and should have filed for liquidation. Some of these developers are innocent victims of the times, but there are still a large number of developers that have not done their homework properly and its disappearance, although sad from an employment perspective for those employees working in those companies, will allow the sector to do its own natural selection process. Hopefully, those in the construction sector that resist the decline will avoid the excesses of the past and Spain will walk towards a more sustainable property market where the offer is not 5 times higher than the demand. But as we say in Spain ” el tiempo lo dirá” (time will tell).

This article has been published in The Manchester Law Society Messenger in February 2011