Marcelino Tamargo, is a reputable lawyer, member of the Oviedo Bar Association since —-, expert in financial law. In 2006 he founded the Law Firm ESPACIO LEGAL, of which he is currently director. Committed to the endeavour of removing the banking malpractices, in 2009 he became the first lawyer in Spain to obtain a favorable judgement against a banking entity, in particular, a dispute against a financial derivative termed SWAP. Due to this judicial accomplishment, the case won by Mr. Tamargo is included in the national report of jurisprudence (“Diccionario Jurídico Aranzadi”) as referral in cases concerning the legal compliance of Stock Market Law and Regulations on issues of financial investments of all kinds.
In his extensive professional trajectory, highlights his broad legal experience on Tax Law, Banking and Procedural Law and his expert knowledge in taxation and International Maritime Law. He was hired as legal adviser by the Treasury Department of Spain, to help in the prevention of money laundering and economic crimes. He also was appointed as Judge in Criminal and Trade law Courts. At present, he is a noted legal arbitrator in national and international financial issues, cases which have contributed to his professional prestige due to the achievements obtained.
Espacio Legal has been protecting the interests of our clients for more than ten years. Our law firm is a referral on finance law cases, since 2009, due to the first Court trial won against a banking entity in Spain concerning the so called “junk banking finacial products”. At present, Marcelino Tamargo leads a team of sixteen brilliant lawyers, in the four cities they have offices in Spain (Gijón, Madrid, Malaga and Barcelona), he was born in Gijón (Asturias,Spain) and is the founder and owner of the law firm Espacio Legal. In a short period of time, his law firm has achieved the challenge of winning the 95% of the aproximate 500 cases filed every year in the 4 offices, by judicial or extrajudicial means.
How did your profession as a lawyer began?
My professional career in law started in a very peculiar way. I studied Computer Engineering in the university, and my first jobs where pretty routinary, and then working for a financial company I got very interested in understanding the job they did, and that made me study law in my city Law School and then, to make a long story short, I ended up in the position of Manager of the Law Department of the financial company I was working for. After working a few years in the same company, I realized that the work I was doing was always the same and not at all indulging; I had to pay the less posible to the clients or sometimes nothing at all, base on regulations which I could see they were not strictly legal. Personally speaking, I felt the need of a more extensive legal knowledge, so I decided to set up my own law firm, Espacio Legal.
Could you say you left the “bad guys”?
In those words, it sounds like an action movie, but in a certain way it could be. The target of any banking entity, insurance company or financial firm is to obtain the highest benefits for their enterprises, therefore, the less they pay to the client the more they increase their profits. I didn´t feel, neither professionally or personally, very pleased with my job, all I had to do was to charge very high interests to the clients even though they were uncertain, and achieve fast dispossessions due to defaults and other issues not very reliable. When I read the lawyers´ arguments against the financial commodities that we were offering to our clients, I understood they were so right and my work so unfair for them that I realized I wanted to stand up for the clients´ interests. It was the perfect moment for me to change to private practice.
What were you looking for, justice?
Well, in this job the pursuit of justice must be always the leading aim, and in my case it has always been, since I worked for several years as a Judge in the Court of Justice in León, Spain. This work experience meant for me a great advantage when working as a lawyer, I acquired an intense legal knowledge and it helped me understand all the evidence that a judge needs to have to make a decision. Therefore, I can say that I know exactly what evidence you need in litigation, when I study a case.
Why did you quit working as a Judge?
I left the financial company I was working for, because I wanted to fulfill my legal career as I felt it, with honesty and a fair play policy. I thought that as a judge I could reach my aims, but once again I was setting aside my objectives, therefore, I had to decide and I chose to set up my own law firm.
What are those projects you mention?
First of all, to be self-reliant not depending on the criteria that someone else determines regarding only their own interests. I believe in standing up for fairness and no matter how big the opponent is it can be defeated.
Did you achieved your purpose?
Of course, I enjoy my job now and I am fighting for the values I beleive in. We have won important judicial cases against great opponents, such as; banking entities, financial and insurance companies. Nevertheless, it has not been an easy struggle, when I started the Courts of Justice were very inflexible in questioning what was written in a contract, but now for the most of the Judges it is possible to refute and discern the clauses of a contract. We can say, there is a more flexible tendency in Court which allows a reasonable litigation.
What is the legal specialty of the law firm Espacio Legal?
At present, we deal with all kind of legal issues; trade and civil law, criminal law, international conflicts, arbitration, family law, etc. We handle approximately 500 hundred cases a year, with remarkable attainment, around the 95% of the cases we take charge of in Espacio Legal, taking into account the judicial cases and those ending with an agreement between the parties thanks to our mediation are won for our clients. However, our strongpoint relies on economic proceedings, such as; economic crimes, payment claims, breach of contracts, private banking lawsuits, complex financial byproducts, insurance policies complaints and finance law litigation. Most of my professional reputation comes from the lawsuits I won against the banking entities, therefore, the media started to call me the “whiplash” of the banking companies.
What became Marcelino Tamargo the first lawyer in Spain to obtain a guilty verdict against a banking company for selling the so called “junk financial products”…
In fact, concerning this issue you mention, we were the first law firm to win a Court case against a banking company, called BANKINTER in Gijón (Asturias) and the lawsuit was against a financial product named “SWAP”. A SWAP, in finance, means an exchange of one security or investment for another, the banking entities were selling it as a kind of insurance against the Euribor rate increase and also against inflation. A client of our law firm Espacio Legal, came to us for advise concerning a contract they signed with the banking entity, we thought the issue was clear enough to file a lawsuit against the banking company, and we utterly won. The outstanding result of this lawsuit was that after the success of the Court proceeding, many other law firms started to sue banking entities using our lawsuit as the leading Court of Justice case against the banking entities contracts. Definitely, we opened a legal platform, and we were awarded with “El Suplemento 2016“, in the Finance Law category.
And what did you do that wasn´t done before?
The case and the trial were very elaborated, we had to do a great research work, looking for legislation that could back up our arguments, and we also introduced new guidelines of reasoning. We were right in our allegations and we won the case. The outcome of the Court judgement was much bigger than we thought, and from there on we became much more well-known.
Well-known, such as to be a finance and banking law benchmark?
I would say so, since I deal with the litigation of our clients in the Court of Justice, and very often some Judge tells me: “I am working on a lawsuit just like the one you won”. Our statements of claims and requests forms are being used as an example by other law firms. Throughout the lawsuits that we have won in the Courts of Justice, we established jurisprudence in new legal issues, especially in banking topics.
And your reputation has made you grow as a law firm?
Actually, we started to grow without being aware of it, clients came to us from all over the country and it was better for them to reach us in their city of residence. At present time, we have offices in Madrid, Gijón, Barcelona and Málaga.
Is Espacio Legal growing more?
Actually, we realized that our clients do business in many countries, therefore we have to follow them to advise properly. In our team there are lawyers with British law degrees as well as Spanish, and in the US we have a lawyer that works for us. In the European Union there is no problem for Spanish lawyers, and in South America there are many international agreements with Spain with allow us to work there too. Espacio Legal is prepared to respond our clients in any country in the world. A few months ago we had an Arbitration case between two enterprises in New York.
Arbitration is becoming an efficient legal tool for enterprises, what´s your opinión about this?
This is due to the fast, straightfoward and efficient proceeding arbitration is. Arbitration has a very simple proceeding; when companies are involved in a legal conflict , an arbitrator is selected (from a national or international list) and he or she decides about the dispute. The arbitrator´s decision is like a judgement, mandatory for both parties. In Arbitration, arbitrators as well as lawyers are experts in the field of law that the dispute is about. It is base on equity and fairness. At first, I was a bit reluctant concerning this way of deciding legal disputes, but now I completely believe in the reliability of arbitration, to the extent of becoming an arbitrator of the Barcelona Arbitration Court.
You do many legal activities besides being the founder and leader of your law firm Espacio Legal, how can you accomplish everything?
Well, thanks to the great team that work in Espacio Legal. Our way of working is very different from other law firms, in our law firm I am the leading lawyer and there are two teams clearly defined; a management team and a legal team. This allows us to work faster and more efficiently, since the first team deals with the managerial issues and the second one can study the cases thoroughly, from there on we decide strategies. Another advantage of our law firm, is that most of the legal team have previously worked in the judiciary system; as judges or prosecutors. Our team in Espacio Legal are brilliant professionals in their field and outstanding human beings
That is also very important, but I mean the human factor….
Obviously, when a person approaches a law firm, he or she, do it in a vulnerable state of mind. They have a legal issue and they ignore its outcome, therefore, the most important thing to do first is to make them feel confident and easeful, and our law firm provides them with profesional guidance as well as personal. Many clients after the legal work was done they have become our friends too.
Using your words; “there is no “enemy” invincible no matter how big it is”.
Well, that sounds very emphatic, taking into account that the final decision is taken by a judge. What I can assure is that you must not be intimidated by how powerful the other party because you have the same possibilities as them to win. There are law firms which tend to be more prone to negotiate, we deal more with legal disputes. We are experts in litigation with successful results. We believe in what we do and we like our job to which we are entirely devoted.