Overseas property Investors from the UK and Ireland who lost money in a failed Italian property development have won their case in the UK Court of Appeal.
Around 185 property investors from Britain and Ireland had invested deposits ranging from £30,000 to £105,000 in the property development almost a decade ago.
The Italian property development in Calabria was known as the Jewel in the Sea, and investors were told that their properties would be built as part of the development when buying off-plan from brochure images.
However, the development was not completed, leaving the investors stuck in a legal battle that even included reports of mafia involvement.
The Italian property development ran into difficulties very quickly, with only a few units built, and planning permissions were suspended in June 2008.
The successful claim came about because the Italian law firm that the investors had entrusted their deposits to, Giambrone, had provided advice to the investors and therefore bore liability when the development ran into trouble.
The law firm also failed to receive the necessary assurances from the Italian property developer that the investors’ money would be kept safe, before handing it over. Neither were the investors informed of upfront agents’ fees of 62 per cent.
The Giambrone Law firm closed its doors in 2009, and according to the Daily Mail, Gabriele Giambrone, the firm’s main solicitor, said the problems came after Giambrone Law in 2007 ‘became the target of a complex fraud perpetrated by skilled and devious criminals’.
She said: ‘We were caught in the crossfire of organised criminals allegedly involved with the IRA and mafia. We stopped working in Calabria when our suspicions about money laundering were alerted.’
In March 2013, the Italian authorities stepped in, which triggered the first court cases in the UK.
Law firm Clyde & Co, acting for the investors, noted in its assessment of the case, that ‘the Court of Appeal upheld the duty of the firm to advise clients of the risk of crime affecting the transaction, in light of the fact that the claimants were resident in a different jurisdiction to that in which the transaction was taking place.’
It is yet to be confirmed how much the investors will receive from the insurance company in the case.