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24/7 Is Just Not Long Enough…!

Are you retired and wonder how the heck you ever found the time to work?

Yes? Same here!

No? Hang in there, it will come – all things being equal, naturally!

For this past week – you know, that period of time equal to seven days and seven nights – I had set myself the following tasks to complete:

Locate and decode the EU laws we need for referencing in our formal complaint to the EUJ;

Locate, translate and decode relevant EU laws and Napoleonic Civil Codes, the bundle of joy (not!) we need to quote to the European Ombudsman concerning the ineptitude of two avocats and one notaire;

Format, write, proof read and edit as necessary the two formal complaints. Collate relevant documents and post the two packages;

Format, write, proof read and edit as necessary the content for our ‘large shack for sale’ website;

Locate and save appropriate internet links for our ‘large white elephant for sale’ website;

Travel to the ‘pile’, repack the few boxes we unpacked in July 2007, vanquish the tarantulas, hornets and no end of other creepy-crawlies that never fail to arrive to occupy the (many) unused rooms between our infrequent visits. Clean the property throughout – but not Monsieur C’s hallowed areas, ie his apartment, ‘Mon Garage’, etc;

Sort out half a dozen Immobilières (estate agents), including those who have been recommended to us by friends, and arrange for Monsieur G, a super gentleman expert who we know is on the ball and honest, to visit the ‘pile’ and collate all the information required for the Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (DDT report, including the all-important Energy rating, ie the statutory survey required before we can even put the property on the market);

Travel back to the Haute-Vienne to relieve son of childcare responsibilities so that he (son, not grandson) and Tom can return to the ‘pile’, decorate and take several dozen photographs for our ‘large carbuncle on the derriere’ website;

Enjoy myself on the forum, Facebook and Twitter, thereby, maintaining contact with family and friends around the globe.

Sigh – this blog post will be published with my red face expressing my sincere apologies for neglecting my family and friends during the past week.

However, there is an up-side, having tossed and turned during the past seven long nights – my brain just would not switch off – just before 5am today, I remembered we still have our copy of the survey and DDT/Energy reports that were carried out in April 2007 at our request and for which we paid 400€, I think the cost might now be closer to double that amount! The Energy rating was not mandatory at that time, but it was included. Therefore, apart from the termite report that only has a ‘shelf life’ of six months, the rest of the dossier is possibly still current because it’s less than ten years old.

Now, that could save us a few bob!

To clarify. Our sellers’ mandatory survey was fine, but we wanted our own survey to include a full structural report, results of Plannings enquiries, plus other information that we required if we were to proceed with the purchase, eg confirmation that we could install a lift in the garage to take a wheelchair to the apartment on the first floor of the property.

Monsieur G will know if the 2007 dossier is still legally valid, he carried out our full 2007 survey and also produced the DDT report, Plannings etc, for us to consider before we signed the Compromis de Vente. Monsieur G personally took copies of the survey dossier  to the notaire. The notaire was/is also his wife’s close friend. Monsieur G’s Attestation for the Appeal Court supported our Case by confirming all the necessary information and relevant documentary evidence was provided for the justices to examine.

We find it so strange that the Riom Appeal Court justices decided we had not expressed the need to know whether or not a disabled lift could be installed in the property before we proceeded with the purchase! 

How could that happen?

Obviously, the justices did not read all of our evidence, or, they read it and discarded the lot! Certainly, as our third avocat confirmed to us, by email, just a few days before Christmas 2009, our sellers had not submitted any evidence at all in their own defence. Well, they had not needed to, they were innocent unless proven guilty. The justices’ disregard for the evidence presented by our avoué confirmed their innocence!

So, back to this week’s tasks – what have I actually achieved during the past seven days and seven nights?

Not a lot! But, most of the content for our ‘PITA pile’ website is as ready as it will ever be, although, repacking, cleaning, decorating and photography are yet to be done.

As I must now concentrate on finalising and posting our complaints to the EUJ and the European Ombudsman, my next blog post will be written after we return to the Haute-Vienne from the Cantal. By then, we will have Monsieur C’s answer to our question regarding whether or not he is now prepared to vacate our house that’s not our home!

Hopefully, during our time in the Cantal, I will get my head together – my back-up brain cell is at critical overload level at the moment!

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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in World

 

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Ok, So Patience Is A Virtue!

On the 24 April 2013, Tom and I posted a letter to the ECHR, Strasbourg, politely requesting the return of our house Case file. We need to send the file to the EUCJ with our application for that Court’s consideration of the facts, as follows in chronological order:

We lost our first Tribunal in Aurillac in 2008 because our first avocat failed to collate the main evidence for presentation to the justices. That avocat was dismissed by his boss on grounds of his ‘incompetences’.

Patience!

We lost our Appeal in Riom in 2009, despite the Court ‘recognising the fraud and arrogance’ of our sellers and despite the notaire having her ‘wrists slapped’ for her incompetence. The justices decided there was no French law that they could use to find in our favour; the justices decided the notaire was ‘young and inexperienced’.

Patience!

In July 2010, the Cour de Cassation Bureau d’Aide decided we would not be granted Legal Aid because (they said) we had not given them the necessary evidence of our financial means. Lies – we sent copies of everything we had to the Cour de Cassation Bureau d’Aide, plus copies of the same evidence to the ECHR. On each occasion, we received the LRAR receipt to show our mail had been received by the intended recipients. But, when challenged by us, a Cour de Cassation Bureau d’Aide clerk commented that the envelopes might have been delivered, but it was not proof that they contained anything!

Patience! 

There are major facts for the EUCJ to consider with regard to the latter point, ie we were not informed by our (third) avocat, nor by our ‘specialist’ Cour de Cassation avocat, nor by the Cour de Cassation Bureau d’Aide that our application for Legal Aid had been finally rejected!

In February 2013, the ECHR passed Judgement that we had failed to send necessary documentation to the Cour de Cassation Bureau d’Aide. What!

Patience! 

The ECHR made no Judgement whatever regarding our complaint that our human rights have been persistently breached throughout the years from 2007 to date.

Patience!

On 24 April 2013, Tom and I sent a letter (LRAR, of course!) to the ECHR requesting the return of our house Case file. We had been advised by SOLVIT that our Case can be considered by the EUCJ on grounds outlined above. However, there is a time limit and, to date, we have not received our file from the ECHR. In fact, the ECHR has not yet even acknowledged receiving our letter!

Patience!

According to a staunchly Christian late great-aunt of mine, patience is one of the seven heavenly virtues that balance the scales alongside the seven deadly sins. Well, we consider that we have been patient for nearly six long, very difficult years and we are taking our lead from a favourite author of mine, Laurell K Hamilton.

“Patience is a virtue, but there comes a moment when you must stop being patient and take the day by the throat and shake it. If it fights back; fine. I’d rather end up bloody at the end of the day, than unhurt with no progress made, no knowledge gained. I’d rather have a no, then nothing. I’d forgotten that about myself.”

Today, we will be posting a brief, probably rather terse, reminder to the ECHR demanding (yep, demanding!) that they return our house Case file to us by no later than 10 June 2013. If we don’t receive that file before or on 10 June 2013, we will approach the EUCJ without the file, but with an additional complaint.

Blimey, we’re getting brave!

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2013 in World

 

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On A Roller-coaster!

As the wheels of 2010 slowly turned, I began to feel quite depressed and bogged down with the sheer volume of paperwork, obstacles and worry that seemed to be never-ending. I was burning the midnight oil, writing letters, collating information, honouring my commitment to the forum moderating team, and putting together the facts of our house Case to create the main points for writing a book.

Never a big eater, and hating the texture of meat, I was by then living on cereals, cheese and crackers, and tea; I never seemed to have the time to eat a meal! In truth, I probably didn’t make the time! I lost a terrific amount of weight, there was more fat on a chip, and I started to feel quite unwell at times. Having Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and an historically ‘dicky ticker’, were obviously at the root of my general malaise. But, I had stopped taking medication for the diabetes and cardiac issues when we were becoming so short of funds towards the end of 2009, and I was so busy all the time during 2010, I begrudged the time to see a doctor.

Tom and I have both been seriously ill during our nearly 5 years of residency in France; living in a tent has certainly not been helpful, but, unlike Tom, I received the best medical care I could have had, although we had to pay for it all – but, that’s another story! However, in 2010, I really did begin to wonder if either of us would see the house Case through to the end. Tom and I were feeling very tired, but we were all feeling as though we were on a roller-coaster!

Something had to give, and family and I needed a positive boost to keep us focused!

We hadn’t heard further from the Bureau d’Aide about our legal aid application since we had received notice that we were “out of time”. However, in August 2010, we received a letter from the ECHR. We were advised to send copy of our forthcoming 2009 French Income Tax Assessment directly to the President of the Bureau d’Aide, in order that we could be considered for legal aid funding. That was the breakthrough we needed. In November, we posted the required copy document to the President of the Bureau d’Aide, our income tax liability was zero, we were below the threshold, as we knew we would be. By return, we received a demand to know how many French Benefits we were receiving, and how much money in total. It gave us quite a lot of pleasure to reply that we were not receiving any Benefits from the State, and we had not ever claimed any Benefits from France. Voila!

We have not heard since from the Bureau d’Aide, but the ECHR periodically sends letters to enquire if we have received communication from the legal aid office. Apparently, once we receive a legal aid award notice, our Case will be heard at the Cour de Cassation, in Paris, within six months to one year, at latest.

As that was going on, Madame Cosson at the Tresor Public in Mauriac, who had written to us earlier in the year, was making some headway on our behalf with the Cadastre in Aurillac; she was also ensuring that ‘historical’ income tax matters were being guided in the right direction towards full clarity! Two rooms, a garage, a part of the rear courtyard and a section of loft, that once belonged to the property we had bought, had been sold to the next-door neighbours, but the sale was never declared by our sellers, not to the tax man, not to the Cadastre. The property that we bought no longer has the dimensions for which we paid! On the plus side, our annual tax foncier has decreased by one-fifth! Sadly, there is no refund payable for the previous years! France doesn’t ‘do’ refunds further in arrears than twelve months.

In addition to that startling revelation, the (several) residential locataires who had apparently paid rent to our sellers had also not been declared to the tax man. Monsieur C, being the last of those residential locataires had, in fact, provided all necessary hard evidence of the tax evasion to the Appeal Tribunal in Riom, in December 2009. Even more of a surprise to us was the fact that another previous locataire of our sellers, a retired postman who still lives in Champagnac, had also given evidence against our sellers! That evidence was  presented to the Appeal Tribunal in Riom in December 2009.

By Christmas 2010, all the fresh evidence of fraud and tax evasion against our sellers had been filed at the two Courts, ie the Cour de Cassation in Paris, and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

2010 was a very long year for us all, and Madame Cosson certainly ensured the end of that year was looking much more positive for us than the beginning of the year.

 

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Lies Laid Bare

Until our second avocat, Julia, received our resident locataire’s Attestation (sworn Statement), she seriously doubted we had sufficient hard evidence to win our Appeal. One of our witnesses, Madame B, had responded to Julia’s request for an Attestation with a letter addressed to Tom and me. In the letter, Madame B emphatically refused to give evidence for us, and she concluded by writing that she would consider any further contact from us or our avocat, to be harassment.

Who is Madame B? Madame B is a retired businesswoman who moved into Champagnac during the same month that we completed our property purchase in the village. She is a French national who had spent some 30 years living in the UK with her British husband, they were divorced and she moved back to France to be near her elderly mother. One side of Madame B’s family originated from Russia, the other side from the Champagnac commune. Madame B speaks fluent English as well as her mother tongue, also Russian. When she heard about our immediate concerns, in the village Bar/Café-Tabac-Presse during the evening of the day we had completed our purchase and had discovered the deception, she immediately offered to accompany us to the notaire’s office to translate for us, when the notaire returned from her holiday. Madame B did accompany us to the notaire’s office, and she translated for us. When the notaire telephoned our sellers, putting the telephone in loudspeaker mode to speak with seller, Madame T, and asked her if she or her husband had given Monsieur C a rental Contract, the response was, “Non.” The notaire asked our seller the same question twice, the response was emphatically, “Non”, both times. The notaire then asked Madame T if she or her husband had rented the garage to Monsieur C, the response was shouted, “Non, he is a liar!”. The notaire thanked Madame T, disconnected the call, looked at Tom and me and said she could not help us, but she would “speak with the sellers and persuade them to offer” us “some compensation” for our “inconvenience”. The notaire also advised us to “sue the Immobilier”.

Madame B gave her contact details to us and urged us to pass them to our avocat, We followed through and Monsieur MA said he would contact Madame B and request her Attestation. He had never contacted her. I asked Julia if Madame B could be subpoenaed, or a French equivalent. She shook her head and told us Madame B would probably just say she could not remember, it was two years ago.

Monsieur MA had never contacted the resident locataire, Monsieur C, either! Julia contacted him by post and he replied immediately, telling her he had been waiting for our avocat to contact him since July 2007. Within days of making contact with Monsieur C, Julia telephoned us to say she had received a wonderful Attestation from Monsieur C, via his avocat, plus documentation that included copy of his Rental Contract. The Rental Contract covered Monsieur C’s apartment, sole use of ‘Mon Garage’, sole use of one of the three cellars, sole use of a rear courtyard outbuilding, and sole use of a measured, designated section of the loft. All documents had been endorsed by our sellers, ie Madame T. Included with the documents was a copy of Monsieur C’s Contents Insurance, and copies of every Contents Insurance Policy that he had renewed each year during his tenancy. There was also copy of a letter from the insurance company, it confirmed copies of Monsieur C’s annual contents insurance renewals had been sent to Madame T each January during his long period of tenancy, until 2008 when their client had informed them of the property change of ownership.

Julia told us that was the evidence we needed to prove our Case against our sellers, it was conclusive beyond all doubt. That evidence, together with our pre-Sale Contract, signed by both parties, and which stated that we had sole use and enjoyment of the property, was more than sufficient to prove the sale was fraudulent, in French law and terminology, a vice caché.

That’s when we dared to start hoping we were seeing light at the end of that long, dark tunnel. How very wrong we were!

 

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