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Ding Dong Merrily – A High!

Ding dong merrily – a high,

The avocats are singing!

Ding dong, verily say I,

Their excuses are all minging!

Having survived several bouts of handbags at dawn as SFR and France Telecom battled for supremacy whilst we languished without internet connection for an entire month, I’m delighted to return to the land of techie living! Although, I do wonder how long this uneasy truce will last, a degraded line and a drop in mb power to accommodate that poorly line have been firmly established as an existing double whammy force with which we will need to grapple again in the not so distant future, I’m certain of that!

Well, this is France – c’est la vie!

During our enforced techie silence, snail mail has been slipping back and forth between me and a couple of overseeing bodies. Bless ’em, not one has accused us of posting empty envelopes to their offices, they’re proving to be far more honourable than a certain clerk in the Cour de Cassation Bureau d’Aide in Paris!

Have we progressed?

Well, le batonnet (French barrister) who is acting for the equivalent to the Law Society office, Toulouse, and who is handling our complaints about our first and third avocats, was the first overseer to respond, very seriously and quickly, to our initial letter outlining our full package of complaints. Since that first exchange of correspondence, our first avocat, Maitre MA (let’s give him his title, although, he didn’t have any respect for us, obviously!), has admitted via le batonnet some of his faults; he has held up his hand to a number of his negligent errors that occurred throughout the course of his administrations relevant to our vice caché Case.

As correspondence gathered pace and content, it emerged that Maitre MA had appealed his dismissal from the Cabinet where he was employed during those early days when he was supposed to have been collating evidence and building our Case for the Grande l’Instance Court. His appeal was also dismissed. ‘Nuff said!

Although Maitre MA put up his hand to much negligence, and that negligence might well have condemned our Case to failure from day one, he could not resist passing some of the buck to our third avocat, Maitre AB.

The section of buck that Maitre MA attempted to pass to Maitre AB concerns our missing (apparently!) Property Deeds, the Property Deeds that Maitre MA was adamant he required to hold in his little hot hand before he could file our Case at the Grande l’Instance Court. His insistence was based on his ‘professional need’ to ‘finalise the return of the property to the sellers at the earliest, after the justices announce their Judgement’.

What a load of rubbish! As things currently stand, it appears that our Property Deeds may have been lost in the “mess” found in Maitre MA’s office following his dismissal! Or, perhaps, he took our Property Deeds with him, along with other sections of our file that were missing when our second avocat took over our vice caché Case? Who knows, we don’t! Maitre J, our second avocat – who collated sufficient evidence out of the wreckage left behind by Maitre MA to ensure recognition by the Appeal Court Judges of our sellers’ fraud – told us she could not find the Deeds in the “mess”. We believed her without reservation, that lovely lady did a wonderful job for us against all odds. Our third avocat, Maitre AB, clearly did not ever see our Deeds – although, she has admitted ignoring our plight and our requests for our file to be returned to us!

Anyway, you’re out of luck with your attempt to pass the buck regarding our missing Property Deeds, Maitre MA. Hah!

We are now waiting for a decision to come from le batonnet at the Ordre des Avocats, Toulouse. Our Case could be returned to the Cour d’Appel, Riom, for further consideration and a fresh Judgement. Or, bearing in mind that we have a potential buyer, ie our longstanding tenant, Monsieur C, who has made his intentions clear in writing (more about this later) and copies have been sent to the various overseeing bodies , we could be awarded compensation by the Ordre des Avocats, rather than the Case being thrown back into the litigation swamp. Or, we could simply receive a letter that drips empathy, sympathy, shock and horror – and nothing else!

In the meantime, the Board at the Chambre des notaires du Cantal is also now considering the evidence supporting our claim that the notaire who administrated our property purchase failed us miserably! More about that later, too!

FNAIM, aka La Fédération Nationale de l’Immobilier, is the overseeing organisation that, supposedly, protects the interests of French Immobiliers (estate agents) and their clients! Last week, we received our first response from FNAIM to the letter that we sent to all the overseeing bodies on 15 November 2013. Here’s a link to the full Monty for anybody who can be bothered:

http://www.fnaim.fr/3574-qui-sommes-nous-.htm

Wow! They’re quick on the draw – not!

Interesting response, too!

Well – no surprises!

FNAIM have told us, in their letter, that they can’t/won’t get involved because we took the Case to the Courts, simple as that!

Ah, but, late in 2007, Monsieur C complained to FNAIM that our Immobilier, Monsieur F, was harassing him to move out of the property that we had recently purchased. We knew nothing about the harassment until Monsieur C told us about it in 2008. FNAIM replied that they could not/would not get involved until after Court proceedings had concluded with a Judgement. We have a copy of that letter!

Oh my! Cette ambiguïté! One for the Ombudsman, methinks, we need to give him/her something to do!

 

 
7 Comments

Posted by on December 11, 2013 in World

 

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Farewell L’Auvergne…Until The Next Time!

This afternoon, Sunday 27 October 2013, the menfolk and I will be packed and ready to hit the road again, 24 hours earlier than originally expected. We will be leaving the magnificent Auvergne puys and heading back to the relatively flat lands of the northern part of the Haute-Vienne.

We have become good friends with the resident dog, cat and chooks. Despite our canine friend clearly feeling below par for the first couple of days after we arrived, he has been a chirpy, happy chappy since recovering. Our feline friend is a real character and she is welcome to rule our roost any time! Florence and Elizabeth are the most un-fowl chooks we have ever had the good fortune to meet!

We wish we weren’t going and that’s a fact! But, we must, and, a huge plus, we know we will be returning to the home of a friend who couldn’t have supported us more than she has done throughout the past fifteen months, specifically. So, the thought of seeing Kay on Tuesday lightens our hearts and makes us smile. Although we have been homeless since early in 2008, we don’t feel homeless when we return to Kay’s home. That feeling of belonging is worth gold-dust to us.

During the months since the ‘birth’ of this blog, and before and since that advent via forums, Facebook and Twitter, I have been asked many questions about our hobo lifestyle and the reasons why we were forced to leave our house that’s not a home. Most of those questions have been relevant, a few have been accompanied by sarcasm or disbelief, most have been asked because many folks haven’t read my blog page by page. That’s fine, our story doesn’t interest all and we expected and appreciate that choice is the preference of the individual.

However, I started this blog at the suggestion of one specific friend, called Jane, who supported my wish to ensure as many folks as I could possibly ‘reach’ would be made aware of the totally hidden, soul-destroying evil of vice caché associated with property buying in France. Family and I will do everything in our power to ensure no other family goes through what we have endured here.

Therefore, for those who are planning to purchase a property in this beautiful country, here are a selection of questions, with my answers, that folks have put to me during the past 6 years. You may find I have answered many of the questions in my blog pages, or when responding to comments made by readers and followers of my blog – there are near enough half a million folks, around the globe, who have read at least one page. That makes me feel very humble, I’m not a professional writer and I am sure my writing style very probably makes better writers cringe! But, I do my best, often in very difficult circumstance that are not conducive to producing anywhere near good enough grammar and spelling. I don’t carry a dictionary or a thesaurus, and, when I don’t have immediate access to Wifi, Google can’t be my best friend! Also, I usually forget to proof read and edit when the opportunity to access Wifi suddenly arises!

FAQs

Q Will you be writing a book?

A Yes. But, probably to the relief of many, I have requested assistance with the writing from a very good friend who is a widely recognised, extremely competent writer, she has agreed to help me. Phew!

Q When will you write the book?

A The first book is already in draft form. I am now working on the sequel. But, a book needs a beginning, a middle and an end – I’m waiting for the end to arrive!

Q Will you name names?

A Yes. If folks can’t identify the culprits, they could fall victims to the same incompetence, at the hands of the same so-called professionals, that scuppered us!

Q Is the first book all doom and gloom?

A Of course not! We are not about doom and gloom, we are survivors! Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get…….” That’s spot on, in my opinion, and, oh boy, we certainly have not known what we were going to get from one day to the next – life has not been ordinary, normal, mundane, boring for us throughout the past six years, chuckle!

Q How did you get into your current situation? Didn’t you do your homework before moving to France?

A Yes, we did our homework, three years of researching and visiting France during all four seasons, north, south, east, west and central. We read up on the real life horrors that others had suffered when purchasing properties in France. We also spoke with folks who had moved to France and who moved back to the UK for a variety of reasons.

Q Did you really move to France with sufficient funds?

A Yes. We moved to France with just under 250,000 euros. We planned to spend no more than 150,000 euros on purchasing a property, including renovating/modernising it to suit our family needs. We were well within budget when everything came to a halt. It took just three years for our remaining funds to be drained by legal fees and our hobo lifestyle. Camping site fees are far from cheap; fuel and car maintenance/repairs were phenomenal – we have travelled over 200,000kms since early in 2008.

Q Why did you leave the property you had purchased?

A When vice caché proceedings commence, no changes can be made to the property, that is French law, not even minor repairs. We started vice caché proceedings within hours of property purchase completion. Temporary electrical and plumbing works completely failed after eight months of us moving into the property. We had no running water, no sanitation and no safe electricity supply.

Q Have the tenants paid rent to you?

A Not directly. Our first avocat told us we could not, in law, refuse to accept the rent, but, to accept the rent would have been considered by the Courts as accepting the tenants. Catch-22! So, we battled to have the rent accepted directly by the taxes foncier and d’habitation bureaucrats, ie equivalent to the Council Tax officials in the UK. The annual rental income just covered the annual property taxes, it has always been paid directly to the French equivalent of Council Tax office. Therefore, we have not directly received the rent throughout the past 6+ years.

Q Wouldn’t it have been better for you to return to Britain and continue the legal proceedings from there?

A No. We moved to France for reasons that remain, today, as strong and constant as they were in March 2007. Also, if we had returned to Britain and ran out of money to fund the proceedings, we could not have received Legal Aid from either country. Britain would not have been legally bound to help us, rightly so, the property is in France. France would not have been legally bound to help us, rightly or wrongly, we would have been resident in Britain. Although, eventually, our Legal Aid application was rejected in France, the reason for that rejection is still to be investigated, it was an unfair (at best), possibly corrupt (at worst), decision made by a clerk.

Q With hindsight, could you have done anything different that might have changed the course of history before it occurred?

A Yes. With hindsight, we could have continued travelling south in March 2007, to Gaillac in the Midi-Pyrenees. That was our intended destination when we left the UK on 6th March 2007. However, then, we would not have discovered what we believe is the most beautiful Region in France, the Auvergne.

Q Do you still feel that France is the country where you should remain?

A Yes. France is our home. We do not hold the country or the French people responsible for our plight. We were defrauded by one couple, ie the sellers, and that fraud was assisted by an incompetent notaire, two incompetent avocats and, in our united opinion as a family, a greedy Immobilier.

Q Do you feel you have suffered greatly through your experiences of the past six years?

A Tom and I have definitely suffered. We both moved to France with pre-existing health issues that could have caused one or both of us to pop our clogs at any time. Our often harsh lifestyle during the past six years has made things much more difficult for us. Losing toes to excruciatingly painful gangrene initiated by frostbite has certainly been Tom’s worst experience over all, although, his deteriorating health, due to advancing emphysema, has been our greatest concern. However, our lads have gained from our experiences of the past six years; grandson is definitely far more healthy than he was when we first hit the road!

Q Do you know other folks who have been caught up in a vice caché property nightmare in France?

A Yes. During the past four years, I have been put in touch with 107 families who are caught in the vice caché trap. I have no doubt that we and those 107 families are merely the tip of an iceberg!

Q Has anything been said to you, relevant to your long fight for justice, that you feel you will never forget?

A Yes. I can quote, virtually word for word, the comment of a British Immobilier who lives and works in France. He said, ‘Chrissie, if the world’s Press get a hold of your family’s horrific story, I might as well sell up and return to the UK. Your experiences, and your treatment at the hands of the French judicial system, will scupper real estate sales in France for many years to come.’

Well, that’s not what we hope to attain. But, we do hope the publicising of our fight for French justice will go some way towards preventing Napoleon’s archaic Civil Codes destroying the lives of others who fall foul of seemingly protected fraudsters and their supporters.

Onward, and upward!

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 27, 2013 in World

 

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Truth Will Out, But Who Will Benefit?

During the past few weeks I have spent a lot of time writing letters, and translating them to the best of my ability, to the three main governing bodies that are reputed to exercise some form of control over the real estate agents, the solicitors, and the notaires of France, predominantly, in the Cantal Department, for obvious reasons.

Just for the Hell of it, I copied our six years long tale of woe to the Cantal Ombudsman who also determines the facts and solutions when Human Rights appear to have been breached. Well, what the heck, in for a cent…in for a euro!

Between the composing, all verifiable and well documented facts of course, the writing, the translating and researching to ascertain the correct governing bodies and relevant addresses, I have been battling with the return of chronic and, often, acute bouts of asthma! Unfortunately, I have discovered that I am still allergic to birds – just as I was 60+ years ago when the allergy was initially determined by the medical profession in Germany. Actually, I am highly allergic to the powder found in the feathers of birds, a parrot in this case!

There is a wonderful, highly intelligent, very verbal parrot in the household of our good friend who has provided family and me with a home since last summer, between pet/house sits. My allergy is not Tommy’s fault, Bless him, in fact, he is possibly just as sensitive to this Golden Oldie as I am to his feather dust! Yet, he doesn’t complain!

Anyway, onward, the letters were received by each of the four intended recipients. Well, the LRAR envelopes were received, one can’t assume that the envelopes contained anything when they were delivered – not according to the Cour de Cassation Bureau d’Aide, anyway!

To the great surprise of my menfolk and me, we received swift responses from two of the governing bodies at these offices:

Conseil Régional des Notaires d’Auvergne

10 rue Maréchal Foch

63000 CLERMONT-FERRAND

and………..

Conseil National des Barreaux

French bar Association

22 rue de Londres

75009 PARIS

The response letter we received concerning our complaints about the notaire (Maitre CB) who administrated our property purchase and the fraudulent sale of our sellers contained empathy, a clearly defined level of shock, plus the undertaking to secure our file and thoroughly investigate the complaints we have laid down before them.

The response letter received from the National French Bar Association contained the information that they would not investigate our complaints about our first and third avocats, but, they signposted us to the correct overseeing body in Toulouse. Fair enough, they even gave us the full postal address. No problem, I copied everything directly to the Regional Conseil that oversees all Toulouse avocats – sent LRAR, of course.

We’re currently pet/house sitting in our favourite mountains in the Auvergne, so, we will find out early next week, when we return to the Haute-Vienne, if FNAIM (insurers/overseeing body for French Immobiliers aka real estate agents) and the Cantal Ombudsman have responded to our complaints.

I am not accepting bets, not yet!

Having saved the best part of this particular blog page until the end of my musings for today, I must first thank my wonderful HIFF colleagues, specifically, Tracey and Pip (ladies first!), for keeping everything Hobos In France together in my absence. The HIF Forum, the Hobos Facebook Group, both of the Hobos Facebook advertising Pages, HIF Twitter Page and the Hobos brand new, just launched Google Group – Tracey and Pip, thank you both from the bottom of my heart, you are Hobo champions and the best friends anybody could ever hope for, truly.

Monsieur C, our remaining tenant, has, at long last, revealed his reason for playing his part in our six years of living as hobos in France. His revelation came in his written response to our formal letter offering him first refusal regarding the purchase of the property that is our house but can never be our home.

That offer of first refusal to existing tenants is standard law in France. It is an absolute must when selling a rented property in this country that remains firmly under the thumb of Napoleon and his centuries old Civil Codes! Whatever we think of the archaic legal system, however much we strive to persuade France that she needs to struggle and scrape herself into the 21st Century, Napoleon retains his grip and there’s little to nothing that we can do about it!

So, be aware, all or any who believe they can purchase a rental property in France, make a fortune – or, merely a living – then sell on when the novelty wears off, or the going gets tough when fortunes or world economy change, or simply because they want to move on. Luck never supercedes law in France and Napoleon’s Civil Codes are the ultimate sky-high solid wall that simply can’t be scaled or toppled!

However, it appears to be a simple matter for a law-breaker to pass on legal responsibility to an unsuspecting property buyer and walk away from the mess that ensues!

That’s what happened to us, as we have learned from Monsieur C in very recent weeks.

In reply to our offer of first refusal regarding the purchase of our property at the 2007 price, with no agency fees and only 50% of the notaire’s fee to pay, Monsieur C had until the end of November to respond, but he responded very quickly with his (seemingly sincere) thanks to us for recognising his tenancy rights. He also congratulated us on ‘knowing, acknowledging and applying French law, unlike Monsieur and Madame T’, aka our fraudulent sellers and his former landlords.

Monsieur C went on to tell us that he was interested in purchasing the property from Monsieur and Madame T in 2007, but he was not offered the opportunity and they sold to us, despite the objections that he apparently lodged with the administrating notaire. Yes, the notaire who we know as Maitre CB! Hence, the forming of the bone of contention that has dominated the lives of my menfolk and me throughout the past six long years.

However, Monsieur C then confirmed in his letter that he might still be interested in purchasing the property – from us. He requested time to “sleep on it”, asked us for details of the notaire we will be using to administrate a sale and requested copies of relevant documentation. By return of post, we sent all requested details and documentation (including the necessary Energy Report etc) to Monsieur C – via LRAR, of course! We also included copies of our letters of complaint sent to the overseeing bodies and the Ombudsman. Why? No stand-alone reason, it just seemed to be the right thing to do at the time – Monsieur C has long complained about his treatment at the hands of our fraudulent sellers and the equally guilty notaire, Immobilier and our first avocat.

En route to the Puy-de-Dome to start our current pet/house sit, we called in to our house that’s not our home in the Cantal – both Departments are in the breathtakingly beautiful and as yet unspoiled Auvergne Region. We spoke with Monsieur C, he was open and friendly – and seemed to be somewhat relieved and happy! He told us he would be in touch about purchasing the property very soon, he would be attending a relevant rendez-vous the following day.

On this aspect, I am taking bets!

I’m thinking along the lines of world recession, France still teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, property prices in the Auvergne in 2007 and now, our lifestyle and our need for a settled home, Monsieur C’s knowledge of our circumstances……………my bet is that Monsieur C will offer us a pittance! He knows all about Napoleon’s Civil Codes, too, and if in doubt, one of his sons is an avocat! He will know that if we refuse his offer, we will not be able to sell at a higher price than he offers without a legal wrangle and clear evidence that his offer is unreasonable!

Bets – any takers? Or, do you think I’m being rather cynical and a tad paranoid?

 
10 Comments

Posted by on October 22, 2013 in World

 

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Halcyon Days Of A French Summer……..

The months of July and August represent ‘the summer’ across France – only those two months, I should add! We can enjoy high temperatures, wall-to-wall sunshine, picnics by the lakes and on coastal beaches, from as early as mid-April right through to mid-November. But, July and August are the only summer months that are recognised as such by the French people.

During those two months, the famous laid-back French lifestyle adopts the stance of supine! Heaven help the householder whose plumbing springs a leak, or the car-owner whose exhaust drops off, or even the victim of fraud whose life has been turned upside-down and inside-out.

Finding a plumber who is not ‘en vacance’ during July and August is a true feat of determined dedication! Finding a garage mechanic to sort out the exhaust – without initially posturing, prancing and pursing lips as the calendar is scrutinised for a time and day that will not inconvenience ‘mon holiday’ – can take many frustrating days! Obtaining a Court hearing date during the hallowed months of July and August, well, forget it!

After living in France for a couple of years, it gradually clicks into place that virtually the entire French workforce is ‘en vacance’ during the months of July and August, unless the tourism industry is involved. Although, it is a fact that family and I have discovered a number of French tourist information centres with locked doors and shuttered windows during July and August. Usually, a scrap of paper sellotaped to the door proclaims something along the lines of…..‘Fermé. Raisons exceptionnelles.’ Quick translation – ‘if you’re having a summer holiday, so are we’!

Chuckle!

So, bottom line, knowing how France ticks, we were not expecting to hear from the notaire this side of mid-August, despite being advised by her assistant that she would return from her annual holiday at the end of July. In order to give her as much information as possible up-front of receiving the anticipated date of the first rendez-vous, we sent her a package that we’re fairly certain will have resulted in her feeling rather shell-shocked!

Included in the package were separate files containing the full raft of survey results and Reports that we commissioned in April 2007. We were fully aware that the sellers had procured the basic necessities, but we also required a full structural survey and written, verified confirmation that our Planning requirements would be acceptable to the local Council. Copies of our architect’s Plans, dated from April 2007 to July 2007, inclusive, showing how our ‘pile’ would have been returned to its former glory as simply a family home with a lift installed in the garage to take us to the first floor. With ‘shot’ lungs, ie advancing emphysema (Tom) and a proven dicky ticker (moi) between us, we knew a house comprising more than one storey was not for us, not without that essential lift.

Had all things been equal, the property would no longer have been an ‘apartment block’ by Christmas 2007.

Prior to tucking the beautifully bound architect’s files into the package, I couldn’t help myself – I just had to take a final look through what might have been the future for our autumn years.

What a seriously stupid error of judgement!

For hours over several days, I ran the full gamut of emotions – deep sadness, raging anger, sour bitterness, fear of an endlessly stretching, empty, homeless future for my menfolk, soul-destroying disappointment – you name it, I believe I felt it.

I didn’t post the package for almost a week. There’s no point to anybody asking me why I didn’t post it earlier, I really don’t know the answer! Suffice to say, though, as soon as I handed it over to the lovely lass in La Souterraine La Poste, a huge weight seemed to lift from my shoulders and I felt at peace, as happy as Larry in fact!

Nowt so queer as folk, eh!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on August 15, 2013 in World

 

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Whoops! Are We Back On The Roller-coaster?

After the exhilaration of the past couple of days, family and I had to get our feet back on the ground and our heads back on our shoulders, the reality is that we still have a long way to go. We’re nowhere near getting out of la forêt, yet! We must still face the daunting experience of our Case being judged at the Cour de Cassation in Paris.

So, today, in response to many questions that I have been asked by folks living all around the world, I’m going to ‘chat’ about potential next steps. I won’t go into the entire workings of the Cour de Cassation, I’m certain that would be boring to read, and I know it would be a very cumbersome post for me to write! The information I will give is based on data sent to me by various legally and part-legally qualified professionals, one of whom actually works within the austere confines of the Cour de Cassation, on my own research, and on verification of my own and others’ research.

How much information have I received from four (to date) avocats, including our specialist Cour de Cassation avocat? None, absolutely zilch!

The Cour de Cassation is the highest Appeal Court in France, it’s the Supreme Court. To get a Case to the Supreme Court, it must first be heard in one of the Tribunaux d’Instance local Courts, or in one of the Tribuneaux de Grande l’Instance Courts. The latter depends on the severity and the monetary value of the dispute. Our Case was initially heard in the Grande l’Instance Tribunal in Aurillac (15).

The history of the French Cour de Cassation goes back to the French Revolution, it was established by the Act of 27 November 1790. But, the Court’s workings are still largely based, in principle, on the ancient Roman judicial proceedings.

Within the Court, there are six main sections in which a Case can be judged, these sections are as follows: Commercial, Labour, Civil, Criminal 1, Criminal 2, and the Chambre de Requetes – the last gives judgement on whether or not a Case is admissible for Appeal at the Supreme Court. During my conversation with Maitre at l’Huissier’s office in Mauriac, it emerged that our house Case has got through the Chambre de Requetes, and that is why we now have some action! Although, we have not received written confirmation, that might be one of the documents waiting for us at l’Huissier’s office, or at the house. We will find out towards the end of April.

Our house Case was referred to the Civil section of the Cour de Cassation, but a number of professionals have commented, during the past 2 years, that it should be heard by judges in the Criminal 2 section, because our sellers’ fraud has already been proved. Those professionals might well be correct!

If the Claimant fails to win in one of the lower Courts, an Appeal can be lodged in the Region’s Tribunal d’Appel; ours was Appealed at Riom in the Puy-de-Dome (63).

Failure to win the regional Appeal can result in a further, final Appeal to the Cour de Cassation, Paris. The judges in the Supreme Court do not judge on the merits of the Case, they are in situ to decide whether or not French laws have been correctly interpreted during the previous Hearings.

What sort of result may be seen coming out of the Cour de Cassation where our Case is concerned? Well, the previous Appeal decision can be upheld, and in that case, there will be no further French legal action, it would be all over as far as the French judiciary are concerned! Or, the previous Appeal Court decision can be quashed, and the Case can be returned to the Appeal Court in Riom for further consideration and a fresh Judgement. The Cour de Cassation might decide to quash the previous Appeal Court’s decision and order that there will be no further Appeal, the Cour de Cassation decisions about the Case will then be final.

Our Case will be heard by a panel of at least 5 judges, presided over by the Cour de Cassation President, or, a possibility, the most senior Cour de Cassation Judge.

There are a number of potential results.

The judges can decide that our Case is a straight forward vice caché and order the property to be returned to Monsieur and Madame T, with a full refund to us, and with no leave given for the couple to Appeal. On average, it would take 4 – 6 months for the final resolution to be attained, and the judges decision must first be endorsed by the Court President.

The judges can decide that, on grounds of the vice caché having been proved at Riom, the Case must be returned to the Riom Appeal Court for further consideration and a fresh judgement. That would delay the final resolution by up to a year.

The judges could rule that we, Tom and I, are partially responsible for the vice caché, due to whatever reasons they decide on the day. In that case, they could refer the Case back to the Riom Appeal Court for further considerations and a fresh judgement.

The judges could rule that our vice caché claim has been proved, but give Monsieur and Madame T leave to Appeal. That could result in us waiting for an Appeal to be lodged by our sellers, and the Case could drag on for a further period of one to possibly up to three more years.

Our fervent hope is that the Cour de Cassation judges find fully in our favour, with no right of Appeal to our sellers, and with an order that a total resolution must be attained within 28 days.Such a Judgement is rare, but it does happen, and it would need to be endorsed by the Court President.

If we are lucky enough to receive the justice for which we fervently hope, our sellers could plead poverty and state that they’re unable to refund our money! In that event, the Cour de Cassation judges can order them to give us their own home in return for taking repossession of our house that’s not a home, and they would need to live in the latter! Or, the judges could order that property and possessions, belonging to our sellers, must be auctioned and the proceedings used to refund us. That Judgement would need to be endorsed by the Court President.

According to a very knowledgeable source, our sellers are most likely to plead that they have shared their property and possessions among their children and grandchildren! In that case, the judges can order those items to be seized by l’Huissier, assisted by Gendarmes, and the property and possessions to be auctioned, with the proceedings used to refund us. Again, such a Judgement would need to be endorsed by the Court President.

So, there are many possibilities! At the end of it all, will we recoup all of our losses? Very possibly not! But, that’s another story!

 

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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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