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Disputed debt in Portugal - options?

Disputed debt in Portugal - options?

Old May 20th 2022, 12:11 pm
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Default Disputed debt in Portugal - options?

How do disputed debts work in Portugal?

My sister has just bought an apartment in the Algarve with a lawyer doing the conveyancing. The 1st lawyer she appointed didn't return calls and stopped being in contact and has just sent an email demand for 500 euros of work he definitely didn't do. We've asked him to qualify the bill by telling us what it represents and asking him to put it on an invoice with a breakdown. He has refused and said he will commence legal proceedings if we don't pay the 500 euros. I have no idea how legal proceedings for small debts like this work. Is it like in the UK, where you have to enter into correspondence to dispute the debt and if agreement isn't reached, then one party sues the others in the County Court, a Judge hears it, and if you lose then a Judgment is entered against you. I understand in Portugal that debts not paid can be charged against a property, that is my only concern. It's such a small amount of money we might just pay it, but it's beside the point as the lawyer hasn't done the work. The lawyer didn't provide any agreement from the outset and didn't ask my sister to sign any document agreeing to fees, it was a very strangely informal relationship done verbally with nothing set out in writing. When he stopped being in contact we sent a letter by recorded delivery saying we were replacing him with a new lawyer as the purchase needed to go through quickly.

What is the law of costs in Portugal? Is it the same in the UK, that a loser must pay the other sides Judgment plus their costs? Sadly I have tried to find out how money disputes work when they reach Court stage in Portugal but it's all complicated and difficult to understand. And we obviously don't want a charge placed on my sister's newly acquired property over a small debt and a lawyer who is blatantly trying to rip us off. Thanks


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Old May 20th 2022, 1:04 pm
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Default Re: Disputed debt in Portugal - options?

Can't give any legal advice, but would really doubt if anything is enforceable in the absence of a written contract.
If that solicitor would indeed file a claim against you, then you could easily file a counterclaim against him, not to mention the option of referring him to the https://portal.oa.pt if he has indeed been unprofessional.

In a similar situation I would firstly approach the Ordem dos Advogados rd

Last edited by SgtTroy; May 20th 2022 at 1:08 pm.
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Old May 20th 2022, 8:22 pm
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Default Re: Disputed debt in Portugal - options?

Has your sister spoken to her current lawyer about this rogue lawyer - they may have local knowledge about it. In any case, if the rogue has not been engaged as in no contract signed, and has not sent an invoice for his "work" there is nothing to dispute. This is not acceptable as a demand in an email, it must be formally written out (possibly in pdf form attached to an email) with the lawyer's NIF/Contibuinte number, his Ordem dos Advogados reference and a detail of work done with IVA clearly marked, and in duplicate - note that this would be a document that could give you a claim when you eventually sell the property to reduce your capital gains tax (if any) as an admisable expense on purchase of the property - an invoice for work done is routine stuff in PT and would of course also include your sister's details, and her NIF too.
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Old May 21st 2022, 10:26 am
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Default Re: Disputed debt in Portugal - options?

I think it is very hard to choose a lawyer anywhere to be honest. There was a thread on here some years back about finding a conveyancing solicitor in Tavira. Lots of people suggested one solicitor after having good experiences with said solicitor.

I kept the name safe and as we are now selling I googled them to find contact details only to find in the ensuing years they had been prosecuted for embezzling clients money!!
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Old May 21st 2022, 12:20 pm
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Default Re: Disputed debt in Portugal - options?

You have new solicitor, so engage him/her to deal with this issue. I personally would rather spend 500eur on new solicitor they pay bully.
BTW, even in UK any debt can be attached to property and sale forced to recover debt. This is not "Portugal thing".
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Old May 21st 2022, 2:24 pm
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Default Re: Disputed debt in Portugal - options?

What about requesting the "livro de reclamações". I have never had reasons to request one but perhaps a forum member might have had an experience with filing a complaint.
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Old May 21st 2022, 6:50 pm
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Default Re: Disputed debt in Portugal - options?

I did it once, problems with meo.

Sorted out almost instantly.
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Old May 22nd 2022, 9:35 am
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Default Re: Disputed debt in Portugal - options?

First officially ask them about their "livro de reclamações" which, if they do not discuss with you then, go fill it in online.

https://www.livroreclamacoes.pt/Inicio/
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