CROBECO

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CROBECO (Cross Border e-Conveyancing) concerns cross border registration in foreign Land Registers and it is an ELRA initiative awarded by a Grant within the Civil Justice specific programme (JLS/2009/JCIV/AG/0002).

The project aims to facilitate a European real estate market by supporting foreign buyers of a (second) home in the EU. Some prospective buyers hesitate because of insecurities about foreign legislation and because of the language gap. They fear the pitfall of unknown limitations and restrictions. Examples of these pitfalls were described in “Properties rights and wrongs”, a publication by Dianne Wallis and Sarah Allison, that was based on petitions received by the European Parliament Petitions Committee.

CROBECO aims to avoid those pitfalls by having the contract of sale executed in the language of the foreign buyer by a conveyancer from that country who is properly informed about in the country of the plot of land existing property rights, limitations and charges. The framework for this alternative conceyancing process for foreign buyers of real estate is based on a process with tools to support foreign conveyancers is described in a Cross Border Conveyancing Reference Framework (CCRF). Drafts of the CCRF were discussed with ELRA-members and other stakeholders. The final version of the CCRF was approved at the General Assembly of ELRA in May 2012.

A follow-up project named CROBECO II implemented the tools proposed in the CCRF. Clauses in a proposed contract of sale expresses a choice for contractual and non-contractual law (Regulations Rome I and II) and, in case of these choices, jurisdiction of a (competent) court (Regulation Brussels 1) of the country of the foreign buyer. For foreigners who buy from a seller with the same nationality (according to a study by Professor Arruñada about 40 % of British and German buyers in Spain) these choices are attractive. It allows judging violation of contracts or conclusion of contracts under disadvantageous terms (Article 12 of Regulation Rome II) by home country courts.

CROBECO is based on the involvement of specialized foreign conveyancers with knowledge and understanding of over-riding mandatory provisions in the country of the plot of land. To support them a web service named NETPRO is developed. It allows hiring assistance from local specialists who collect information that is not available on line and upload authenticated electronic copies of relevant documents to a project box.

The foreign conveyancer downloads and scrutinizes the documents, informs the foreign buyer and drafts an appropriate contract of sale. A repository with clauses contains examples of clauses for cross border contracts of sale and mortgage contracts with explanations and is accessible through a web platform that also provides access to information involving national legal systems and national services to submit conveyance documents electronically. The repository helps to prevent studying the same type of questions in comparable cases, but can never replace the need for conveyancers who are specialized in cross border contracts.