It is strongly recommended that you choose an independent lawyer who is specialised in Spanish land law (urbanismo). Independent means that they work on your behalf only and are not also looking after the interests of the agent or developer. The Spanish property conveyancing system is different to the UK system so you should ensure that those involved in the transaction are qualified and experienced in Spain.
Exercise extreme caution if an estate agent, promoter or lawyer urges you to cut corners to save money or time.
A Spanish notary public will be involved in preparing the contract of sale and issuing the public deeds. As the purchaser, you have the right to choose which notary you use. The notary is a public servant who has a duty to provide you with free and impartial legal advice on all aspects of the contract before you sign. It is a good idea to seek advice from the notary early on. When a date is set for signing the contract, you have three days beforehand to visit the notary and ask any questions you may have about any aspect of the contract. A full list of English-speaking notaries can be found here
If you choose to work with a British estate agent, promoter or lawyer, check that they are qualified, reliable and have experience operating in Spain. Check that they are registered with the Law Society in the UK and specialise in International Transactions. If your lawyer is based in Spain, ask for their registration number and check that they are registered and practising with the local bar association (Colegio de Abogados).
You should also check that your lawyer has professional indemnity insurance and not sign any papers or hand over any money until you have taken independent legal advice. Although the British Embassy cannot recommend a lawyer, we do have lists of local English-speaking lawyers and qualified translators available on our website.
Many Spanish citizens use a ‘Gestor’ to carry out bureaucracy on their behalf. You should note that only a Gestor Administrativo with the GA kite mark is professionally qualified and certified to process paperwork directly with the Spanish administration. More information can be found on their services here
Should you become involved in a property dispute, but do not have sufficient means to meet the costs of a court case, you can apply for legal aid. More information is available on the European E-Justice Portal. Applications for those resident in Spain should be directed to the local bar association.
Please bear in mind that if you do become involved in a property dispute, you may need to seek a new lawyer with specific expertise in the field of litigation you wish to pursue, e.g. specialist civil lawyers for compensation claims against private parties such as agents, developers or banks, and specialist public body litigants (contencioso administrativo) for claims against local, regional or state authorities.