En el ordenamiento jurídico español, la oposición a la ejecución hipotecaria sólo se admite cuando se basa en la extinción de la garantía o de la obligación garantizada, en un error en la determinación de la cantidad exigible o en la sujeción a otra prenda o hipoteca inscritas con anterioridad (artículo 695 LEC).

In the Spanish legal system, opposition to foreclosure is only allowed when it is based on the termination of the warranty or the secured obligation, on an error in determining the amount due or on the subjection to another security or mortgage previously registered (article 695 of LEC).

In the Spanish legal system, opposition to foreclosure is only allowed when it is based on the termination of the warranty or the secured obligation, on an error in determining the amount due or on the subjection to another security or mortgage previously registered (article 695 of LEC).

Por tanto, entre los motivos de oposición a la ejecución no figura la existencia de una cláusula abusiva en el contrato de préstamo hipotecario, motivo que sólo puede invocarse en un procedimiento declarativo separado que no suspende el procedimiento de ejecución hipotecaria.

Por otro lado, en el procedimiento ejecutivo la adjudicación final de un bien hipotecado a un tercero tiene carácter irreversible, por lo que si la decisión del juez por la que se declare abusiva una cláusula de un préstamo hipotecario y, por tanto, la nulidad del procedimiento de ejecución hipotecaria, se dicta después de que se haya llevado a cabo la ejecución, esa decisión sólo puede garantizar al consumidor una protección a posteriori meramente indemnizatoria, sin que la persona desahuciada pueda recobrar la propiedad de su vivienda.

El supuesto de hecho que trata la sentencia es el de un nacional marroquí que trabajaba en España y que adquirió en Julio de 2.007 una vivienda mediante un contrato de préstamo con garantía hipotecaria de 138.000,00.- € suscrito con Catalunya Caixa. Desde Junio de 2.008, tras quedarse sin empleo, dejó de pagar las cuotas mensuales del préstamo, iniciando el Banco un procedimiento de ejecución hipotecaria contra él. El prestatario no compareció en el Juzgado, por lo que se ordenó la ejecución, se celebró subasta pública sin que se presentara ninguna postura u oferta, por lo que el Banco se adjudicó el bien por el 50% de su valor. Finalmente, el prestatario fue desahuciado de su vivienda el 20 de Enero de 2.011, habiendo presentado poco antes del lanzamiento una demanda ante el Juzgado Mercantil nº 3 de Barcelona solicitando que se anulara una cláusula del préstamo hipotecario por su carácter abusivo y, en consecuencia, que declarara nulo el procedimiento de ejecución hipotecaria.

En este contexto, el juez titular del Juzgado Mercantil nº 3 de Barcelona, Ilmo. Sr. Fernández Seijo, planteó al TJCE dos cuestiones prejudiciales: (i) la conformidad del Derecho español interno con la Directiva 93/13/CEE del Consejo, de 5 de Abril de 1.993, sobre cláusulas abusivas en contratos celebrados con consumidores, y (ii) sobre los elementos constitutivos del concepto de cláusula abusiva conforme a dicha Directiva.

El TJCE en Sentencia de 14 de Marzo de 2.013 respondió a la primera cuestión que la normativa española se opone a la Directiva 93/13/CEE del Consejo porque no permite al juez que conoce del proceso declarativo sobre declaración del carácter abusivo de una cláusula de un préstamo adoptar medidas cautelares cuando sean necesarias para garantizar su decisión final, sólo se garantizaría una protección a posteriori meramente indemnizatoria, la cual resulta incompleta e insuficiente y no constituye un medio adecuado y eficaz para el cese de esas cláusulas abusivas, con mayor razón cuando el bien hipotecado es la vivienda del consumidor perjudicado y de su familia, indemnización que no permite evitar la pérdida definitiva e irreversible de la vivienda.

En cuanto a la segunda cuestión, concepto de cláusula abusiva, la Directiva 93/13/CEE  establece que las cláusulas contractuales que no hayan negociado individualmente se considerarán abusivas si, pese a las exigencias de la buena fe, causan un desequilibrio importante (en detrimento del consumidor) entre los derechos y obligaciones de las partes que se derivan del contrato. Así, el TJCE recuerda el importante desequilibrio que suponen tales cláusulas cuando vienen impuestas por la parte prestataria y no derivan de un acuerdo entre las partes. Para determinar si se causa ese desequilibrio es preciso comprobar si la parte prestataria profesional podía estimar razonablemente que, tratando de manera leal y equitativa con el consumidor, éste hubiera aceptado dicha cláusula en el marco de una negociación individual.

El órgano jurisdiccional español deberá comprobar a la luz de estos criterios si la cláusula incluida en el contrato que establece intereses de demora del 18,75%  que se devengan automáticamente sobre las cantidades no satisfechas a su vencimiento sin necesidad de reclamación. En particular deberá comprobar ese tipo de interés (18,75%) con el tipo de interés legal (5% en 2.007) y verificar que es adecuado para garantizar la realización de los objetivos que el interés de demora persigue en España y que no va más allá de lo necesario para alcanzarlos.

Respecto a la cláusula de vencimiento anticipado que permite a la parte prestataria profesional (el banco) declarar exigible la totalidad del préstamo después de un solo incumplimiento de la obligación de pago de capital o intereses, el juez nacional deberá comprobar si esa facultad depende de que el consumidor haya incumplido una obligación esencial del contrato y si el incumplimiento tiene carácter suficientemente grave con respecto a la duración y a la cuantía del préstamo.

Finalmente, sobre la cláusula relativa a la liquidación unilateral del la deuda impagada, el juez nacional deberá comprobar si, y en qué medida, esa cláusula dificulta el acceso al consumidor a la justicia y el ejercicio de su derecho de defensa a la vista de los instrumentos procesales de los que dispone.

La principal conclusión que se deriva de la Sentencia es que en cualquier procedimiento judicial español de ejecución hipotecaria donde se exija la totalidad de un préstamo bancario por incumplimiento de la obligación de pago de la parte prestataria (consumidor) de alguna de las cuotas del préstamo (ya sean de capital o intereses) y esté garantizada con hipoteca, el derecho a la tutela judicial efectiva exige que si se alega por la parte prestataria (consumidor) la existencia de cláusulas abusivas, el procedimiento principal de ejecución hipotecaria instado por la parte prestamista (el banco) deberá paralizarse hasta en tanto en cuanto el Juez o Tribunal decida sobre si existen o no cláusulas abusivas en el préstamo hipotecario suscrito entre las partes.

 

Therefore, on the grounds of opposition to foreclosure, there is no unfair term in the mortgage loan contract, which is why an appeal can only be made in a separate declaratory procedure that does not suspend the foreclosure proceedings.

However, in the enforcement proceedings, the final adjudication of a mortgaged property to a third party is irreversible, hence the decision from the judge in which a term of a mortgage loan is declared unfair and, therefore, the foreclosure proceeding null, is pronounced after the enforcement has been carried out, this decision can only guarantee the consumer a posteriori compensatory protection of his household.

The case that the sentence concerns is of a Moroccan national that worked in Spain and purchased a property in July 2007 through a mortgage secured loan contract of €138,000.00 signed with Catalunya Caixa Since July 2008, after becoming unemployed, he stopped paying the monthly quota for the loan, the Bank therefore started a foreclosure proceeding against him.  The borrower did not appear in Court, therefore the foreclosure was ordered, a public auction was held and no bids or offers were made, so the Bank took over the property for 50% of its value.  Finally, the borrower was evicted from the property on January 20th, 2011, having presented a claim shortly before against the Mercantile Court Number 3 of Barcelona requesting that the clause from the mortgage loan be taken out due to its unfairness, and, as a consequence, that the foreclosure proceedings be declared void.

In this context, the judge of this Mercantile Court Number 3 of Barcelona, Mr. Fernández Seijo, presented two preliminary questions: (i) the accordance of Spanish Law with Council Directive 93/13/CEE of the 5th of April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts, and (ii) concerning the constituent elements of the concept of an unfair term according to said Directive.

The ECJ, in its judgement of the 14th of March 2013, with regards to the first issue, declared that the Spanish regulation is opposed to Council Directive 93/13/CEE as it does not allow the judge, who knows of the declaratory process concerning unfair declaration of a loan term, to adopt cautious measures when necessary to guarantee the final decision, only a posteriori compensatory protection is guaranteed, which is incomplete and insufficient and does not constitute appropriate or effective means for terminating these unfair terms, especially when the mortgaged property is the household of the wronged consumer and his family, it is a compensation that does not prevent the definitive and irreversible loss of the property.

With regards to the second issue, the concept of an unfair term, Directive 19/13/CEE states that the contractual terms that have not been individually negotiated will be considered unfair if, despite requirements of good faith, they cause a significant imbalance (to the detriment of the consumer) amongst the laws and obligations of the parties involved in the contract. Thus, the ECJ notes the significant imbalance that such terms pose when they are imposed by the borrowing party and do not come from an agreement from both parties. To determine if there is such an imbalance, it is necessary to verify if the professional lending party could reasonably consider that, treating the consumer legally and fairly, he were to accept said term in the framework of individual negotiation.

The Spanish jurisdictional body must verify in light of these criteria if the term included in the contract that establishes an interest on arrears of 18.75% is accrued automatically on the unfulfilled quantities on the due date without them needing to be claimed. In particular, it must verify this interest rate (18.75%) with the legal interest rate (5% 2007) and verify that it is enough to guarantee that the achievement of the objectives that the interest on arrears in Spain pursues and that it does not go further than necessary to reach them.

Concerning the early expiration clause that allows the professional lending party (the bank) to declare the entire loan as anticipatedly matured after a single breach of the obligation of the payment of capital or interests, the national judge should verify if the ability to do that depends on the consumer having breached an essential obligation of the contract and if the breach is serious enough according to the duration and the loan amount.

Lastly, concerning the clause relating to unilateral liquidation of the unpaid debt, the national judge should verify if, and in which way, the clause makes it difficult for the consumer to access to the law and to be able to exercise the right of defense in view of the procedural instruments available.

The main conclusion that has resulted from the judgement is that in any Spanish legal proceeding concerning foreclosure where the entirety of the bank loan is required due to breaching the obligation of payment on behalf of the borrowing party (the consumer) of any one of the loan quotas (whether it is capital or interest) and where it is secured by a mortgage, the right to effective legal protection demands that if allegations are made by the borrowing party of unfair terms, the main proceeding for foreclosure urged on behalf of the lending party (the bank) should be paralyzed as long as the Judge or Court decides whether these unfair terms exists within the mortgage loan signed by both parties.

 

Therefore, on the grounds of opposition to foreclosure, there is no unfair term in the mortgage loan contract, which is why an appeal can only be made in a separate declaratory procedure that does not suspend the foreclosure proceedings.

However, in the enforcement proceedings, the final adjudication of a mortgaged property to a third party is irreversible, hence the decision from the judge in which a term of a mortgage loan is declared unfair and, therefore, the foreclosure proceeding null, is pronounced after the enforcement has been carried out, this decision can only guarantee the consumer a posteriori compensatory protection of his household.

The case that the sentence concerns is of a Moroccan national that worked in Spain and purchased a property in July 2007 through a mortgage secured loan contract of €138,000.00 signed with Catalunya Caixa Since July 2008, after becoming unemployed, he stopped paying the monthly quota for the loan, the Bank therefore started a foreclosure proceeding against him.  The borrower did not appear in Court, therefore the foreclosure was ordered, a public auction was held and no bids or offers were made, so the Bank took over the property for 50% of its value.  Finally, the borrower was evicted from the property on January 20th, 2011, having presented a claim shortly before against the Mercantile Court Number 3 of Barcelona requesting that the clause from the mortgage loan be taken out due to its unfairness, and, as a consequence, that the foreclosure proceedings be declared void.

In this context, the judge of this Mercantile Court Number 3 of Barcelona, Mr. Fernández Seijo, presented two preliminary questions: (i) the accordance of Spanish Law with Council Directive 93/13/CEE of the 5th of April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts, and (ii) concerning the constituent elements of the concept of an unfair term according to said Directive.

The ECJ, in its judgement of the 14th of March 2013, with regards to the first issue, declared that the Spanish regulation is opposed to Council Directive 93/13/CEE as it does not allow the judge, who knows of the declaratory process concerning unfair declaration of a loan term, to adopt cautious measures when necessary to guarantee the final decision, only a posteriori compensatory protection is guaranteed, which is incomplete and insufficient and does not constitute appropriate or effective means for terminating these unfair terms, especially when the mortgaged property is the household of the wronged consumer and his family, it is a compensation that does not prevent the definitive and irreversible loss of the property.

With regards to the second issue, the concept of an unfair term, Directive 19/13/CEE states that the contractual terms that have not been individually negotiated will be considered unfair if, despite requirements of good faith, they cause a significant imbalance (to the detriment of the consumer) amongst the laws and obligations of the parties involved in the contract. Thus, the ECJ notes the significant imbalance that such terms pose when they are imposed by the borrowing party and do not come from an agreement from both parties. To determine if there is such an imbalance, it is necessary to verify if the professional lending party could reasonably consider that, treating the consumer legally and fairly, he were to accept said term in the framework of individual negotiation.

The Spanish jurisdictional body must verify in light of these criteria if the term included in the contract that establishes an interest on arrears of 18.75% is accrued automatically on the unfulfilled quantities on the due date without them needing to be claimed. In particular, it must verify this interest rate (18.75%) with the legal interest rate (5% 2007) and verify that it is enough to guarantee that the achievement of the objectives that the interest on arrears in Spain pursues and that it does not go further than necessary to reach them.

Concerning the early expiration clause that allows the professional lending party (the bank) to declare the entire loan as anticipatedly matured after a single breach of the obligation of the payment of capital or interests, the national judge should verify if the ability to do that depends on the consumer having breached an essential obligation of the contract and if the breach is serious enough according to the duration and the loan amount.

Lastly, concerning the clause relating to unilateral liquidation of the unpaid debt, the national judge should verify if, and in which way, the clause makes it difficult for the consumer to access to the law and to be able to exercise the right of defense in view of the procedural instruments available.

The main conclusion that has resulted from the judgement is that in any Spanish legal proceeding concerning foreclosure where the entirety of the bank loan is required due to breaching the obligation of payment on behalf of the borrowing party (the consumer) of any one of the loan quotas (whether it is capital or interest) and where it is secured by a mortgage, the right to effective legal protection demands that if allegations are made by the borrowing party of unfair terms, the main proceeding for foreclosure urged on behalf of the lending party (the bank) should be paralyzed as long as the Judge or Court decides whether these unfair terms exists within the mortgage loan signed by both parties.