We have recently acted for an English couple whom we helped to retract the contract, with the effect that they were later able to renegotiate the purchase at a lower price because of matters of which they had not been made aware at the time when they actually signed the first contract.
We also acted for an English couple buying a French property which had undergone substantial structural work by the sellers. Luckily, the buyers had consulted us before signing the first contract and we were able to make certain amendments to the contract which would later become vital when a dispute arose between us and the local Notaire (whom the estate agent insisted should handle the final transfer deed) about the compulsory “no fault” insurance which the seller should have taken out before starting the work but had failed to do so. That insurance, (called “assurance dommage-ouvrage”) if it is taken out, would pay out to the owner for the time being of the property in the event of any structural defects arising from the works. That would mean that the owner whose property had suffered damage as a result of bad workmanship or materials would not have to prove negligence or breach of contract on the part of the builder. In this particular instance the sellers of the property had failed to take out this insurance, no doubt because it can be very expensive to do so.
The Notaires had tried to persuade us that the builder’s own insurance was equivalent to that no fault insurance. Finally the Notaires after a long argument between us and them, had to accept that we were right and in consequence agreed to the necessary clauses being inserted in the transfer deed which would enable our clients to make a claim against the sellers if structural defects manifested themselves in the future.
This shows the importance of buyers consulting a firm of experienced French property lawyers such as ourselves, with the requisite knowledge and expertise to advise them before signing the first contract put before them by the French Estate Agent.
In the course of acting for people buying a property in France we as French property lawyers have come across instances where, for example, there was a legal right of way through the building which the estate agent had not told our client about and most importantly was not mentioned in the first contract (compromis de vente) which the estate agents had tried to get our clients to sign. Luckily for them, we as experienced French property lawyers recognised this problem and our clients avoided making the costly mistake of buying this particular property.
We have come across a case where a Notaire has created a life interest of the elderly owners of a French property on them giving the remainder of the property to their children which would mean that on the parents’ deaths each of their interests in their share of the property would be subject to the full amount of UK Inheritance Tax because the donors had retained life interests. Had UK Solicitors who were also Anglo French lawyers such as Barney & Company, been asked to advise on the transaction, they would have strongly advised against the creation of such interests, and structured the transaction differently.
Ms KG of Cornwall – June 2023
I instructed David in late 2022 to assist in the settlement of my late father's French life insurance policy. At the point of instruction I had no idea where to start, how much was in the policy, or what to do at all, but David was happy to take on the case and investigate for me. Over the last few months, David has answered all of my queries promptly and explained the various steps and legalities of the matter, and despite a very difficult time in actually getting the funds from the bank, I am pleased to say the matter is now fully settled.
This would not have been possible without David's specialist knowledge and connections, and the whole process has been dealt with quite quickly considering the obvious challenges. I am very grateful for David's help and would recommend his services for anyone in a similar position.
John of Chelmsford, Essex – March 2023
In January 2023 I was in imminent danger of losing the sale of my holiday home in the Perigord Vert, France due to the uninvited intervention of a local Notaire who held the deeds, and invoked a process of Succession under French Law. My wife had died in March 2019 and although her death had been properly registered with the French authorities a previous French Will (Donation entre epoux) created in November 1990 had become invalid by virtue of a new Will in the UK in 2009. The lack of consultation meant that I was unaware of this complication added to which both my sons had no interest in the sale proceeds and were reluctant to deal with the French Notaire.
At this point I sought professional help and via the web was directed to David Barney, a UK Solicitor who specialises in French Succession Law. Following an initial conversation by telephone David agreed to investigate the problem and I provided him with all relevant documents including the property “Title Deed” and the “Donation entre epoux”. David reverted to me within a few days to confirm that he would accept the case and he fully explained his plan of action and outlined in detail his fees and terms and conditions.
The end result included the removal of the local Notaire from the sale process utilising David’s own French Notaire, and liaison with a local Notaire who acted for both buyer and seller. The French Succession requirements were satisfied and the sale was concluded in March 2023. David Barney kept me advised throughout and with his help the buyers were placated at an early stage to ensure that the sale could proceed.
There is no doubt that without the skilled professional help from David Barney I would have lost the sale and I am very grateful for all his hard work in resolving this issue. I would have no hesitation in recommending his specialist services and commend him to clients with similar difficulties.
Mrs J F of Cornwall – April 2022
I cannot speak highly enough of David Barney. He has worked tirelessly over the past 7 years in order to help me to finally resolve an incredibly difficult situation regarding a complicated dispute relating to my properties in France.
He has a wealth of experience in terms of the French property law, the ability to communicate fluently, liaising where appropriate with his established French associates. These attributes, combined with his professionalism and tenacity, ensures his ability to deliver the best outcomes for the client.
On a personal note, I would add that in my case, he has had the patience of a saint! I will forever be indebted to him for the kindness he has shown. The fact that he continued to represent me over so many years, without charging a single penny until the matter was finally resolved speaks volumes, not only for his professionalism, but also his compassionate nature.
David Barney gave me hope when all seemed lost and that in itself is priceless.
Mr A D of Aberdeenshire – September 2021
I engaged Mr Barney to assist with the complex matter of my mother's French succession and change of domicile shortly before her death. Despite not having managed to find a French notaire willing to deal with a complex case, Mr Barney provided the relevant legal advice and introduced me to a notaire who was able to deal with this situation. At various times, Mr Barney acted decisively to protect my interests and to ensure that the succession and associated house sale progressed as smoothly as possible. I sincerely do not believe that such a positive outcome could have been achieved without his help and intervention.
Mrs HH of Norfolk – April 2021
Having been unable to travel to France since March 2020 to visit my cottage there, I decided I would have to sell it. I have been indebted to Mr David Barney for all his help and advice in dealing with the sale. He has been so kind and patient and dealt with all the many issues with the notaire quickly and efficiently. I could not have managed without his expertise and assistance and would recommend him highly.
Mr AM of Edinburgh – April 2020
We chose David to help us with our purchase purely on the basis of his experience in dealing with French property transactions. We were so glad we did as his skills and expertise were tested to the max during our transaction. We found David to be extremely knowledgeable and he was able to guide us through the process with aplomb. It is said you don’t really need to engage a solicitor in order to purchase a property in France, however, we cannot imagine having done so without David by our side. We highly recommend him.
Mrs GG of Surrey – April 2020
Further to the completion of a house purchase in France. I would like to give my thanks to David Barney, who at all times acted in a most professional and caring way, to lead us through the jungle of French laws, the frustrations that ensued, the translation of the language and many other stumbling blocks.
The whole matter took so much longer than we could have ever envisaged, at all times David remained interested, always gave us advice when asked for and was happy to guide us, with our lack of understanding the French ways.
David worked with us every step of the way.
The whole matter would have been so much more difficult and problematic without David’s constant, amazing patience and empathy.
When completion was imminent, there was yet again a hiccup (which in fact could have destroyed everything that we had already arrived at) with it being close to Easter, it once again was looking a little tenuous. Thankfully David averted the ensuing disaster by going above and beyond what was necessary to make sure that we had a positive outcome on the completion.
Many, many thanks David. It is our belief that without you and your company’s experience, professionalism, caring attitude and fortitude, our experience of purchasing a house in France so much easier. Especially as we never for one moment thought it would be such a minefield. We would not hesitate to recommend David Barney and his company.
Mrs R H – January 2020
I would like to thank you for your professional services in the matter of dealing with the succession of my late husband.
Mrs ST of Swindon – October 2019
David Barney is an old-fashioned type of solicitor, and I mean that in the best possible sense! He leaves no stone unturned, and he will fight tooth-and-nail to make sure that you are protected in every aspect of your house purchase. Many French properties come with unusual or irregular land rights; to make sure you know what you are getting you need someone with a sound understanding of French house-buying and this is where David comes in. If there is anything about which he is in any way uncertain you can rest assured that he will check it out meticulously for you. Your estate agent will argue that you don’t need a solicitor because “the notaire will do all that” but in my view using David’s services was money very well spent and it gave me precisely the level of security that I was looking for in my first foray into French house ownership.
Mr & Mrs F of Somerset – September 2019
Dear David, How could we have completed the purchase of our house without you? Your knowledge of the French systems, Notaires, servitudes, etc., all helped us to establish the correct permissions and contracts over the house and land. Even when we thought we were all ready to sign, yet more problems arose that you dealt with swiftly enough that it could all go ahead. The French appear to have little understanding of the way we buy and sell houses in the UK (why should they?) and the way our Solicitors work for us. It was a long process, but we got there in the end, happy in the knowledge that all items had been tied up properly for the future. It was great to know that we had someone on our side. Many thanks to you.
Mr and Mrs W
Mr and Mrs W who purchased a property in the Charente department wrote to us following their successful purchase to say "David Barney’s experience and guidance was invaluable. His involvement provided us with peace of mind that we would not have had relying solely on a French based Notaire.
A former Client
On behalf of my sister and I, I would like to express a huge appreciation and thanks for your expertise and diligence in the matter of our late sister's estate in France.
Our initial reason for engaging your service was to assist in the translation and understanding of the plethoric volume of legal documents requiring our signatures and immediate payment of succession tax quoted therein. Your familiarity with the language, and your expert knowledge and evaluation of the complexities involved in the calculation of the French succession tax quickly uncovered a significant error, which undoubtedly, we would have paid had we not engaged your services. Furthermore, you identified exemption of these taxes for my sister due to her recognized disability in Britain.
Without a doubt, you have saved us tens of thousands of euros. Once again, many thanks.
Ms A F of London
From the very first phone call, David Barney has been fantastic in dealing with the sale of some land in France. It has been a slightly complicated set of circumstances which he has unraveled and navigated with persistence, grace and clarity. I can't recommend him highly enough and am hugely grateful.
Mr MB of London – December 2014
David was extremely helpful in guiding us through a very difficult transaction. He was always available to spend time and give advice when needed and crucially able to advise us against incorporating several clauses in the agreement that would could have had most undesirable consequences and were not even flagged up by the French Notaire we had appointed to deal with the sale.
Mr & Mrs D J G who live in Wiltshire – January 2015
We would like to thank David for his valuable advice and assistance with our property purchase in France. It was very reassuring to have an expert in the process and the language, ensuring that we didn't sign anything that we were unsure of. David's advice about the best way for us to purchase in our situation also made great sense and we are certainly much more aware of inheritance laws etc for the future. I would happily recommend David's services for anyone needing help in buying a house in France in the future.
Mr RG of Derbyshire – January 2015
David Barney acted for us in the sale of our French ski apartment, and was very efficient, helpful and cost effective. We highly recommend Barney & Co’s services.
Mr LL – April 2015
In August 2014 my brother and I unexpectedly inherited two properties and large debts in France. We were shocked by the death of our sibling and the enormity of the task facing us. We do not speak French and didn't have any knowledge of the complex and prohibitive French Inheritance Laws. I searched the Internet and found David. He has been reassuring and supportive. Always available by email or telephone. His experience of dealing with French Notaires has guided us through a very difficult situation. We would highly recommend David for his knowledge, language skills, calmness and support. His mantra was “Don't worry.” Thank you, David
Ms JK of N. Wales – July 2015
My ex and I purchased a house in France as an SCI (originally as a holiday home), but when we separated I decided to stay in the UK, while my ex moved to France. Being an SCI meant that we owned the house 50/50, and I needed expert legal help to sort it out for me.
It proved to be a very complicated process, but David Barney managed every step with calm, thoughtful and sensible professionalism. His advice to me was second to none at all times. I couldn't recommend David more highly.
Mr and Mrs SG of Devon – December 2015
Both my wife and I would like to put on record how impressed with the service and care you have taken with the buying of our first property in France , all the information you gave us was simple to understand ,I was very grateful to find someone like yourself to guide us through the whole complicated process, as all the documents are in French, I was also impressed at how quickly you returned our phone call with numerous questions, nothing seemed to much trouble and your attention to detail was great, the whole process was smooth and easy to follow ,we would both recommend you to anyone buying a property in France as the service was second to none and will be using your services again on our next venture aboard.
Once again thank you for all your help and legal guidance with the law in France as it seems to differ from how we approach things in England.
Mr PK – January 2016
I can confirm that David acted for me in respect of the purchase of a property in France providing procedural advice, contract terms modification, supply of an independent Notaire and general comfort in the translation of technical French into English.
I have no hesitation in recommending the employment of David in these respects, who not only shows but operates by the "old fashioned" levels of client care which were once the norm in the legal profession, rather than the "red tape" which is so commonly met with today.
Mr & Mrs E of Sawford, Hants – February 2016
David was very thorough throughout the process, and knew to look and ask for elements that we wouldn’t have thought of. He is determined to get the full picture for his clients before they commit to a transaction so they know exactly what they are buying into.
Ms ST of London – May 2016
David acted for me with respect to my late Father’s estate in France, including the sale of his home. David was extremely knowledgeable, very skilful in guiding me to the best possible outcome and very thorough in the way that he handled all aspects of the legal process - his help was invaluable. I also found David to be compassionate and thoughtful which made all the difference at such a difficult time. I have no hesitation in recommending him to you.
Mr JM of Swindon – May 2016
My brother and I, who have little knowledge of the French legal system, were faced with signing complicated French legal documents to allow the sale of a French property in which we had a share.
We realised we were vulnerable and asked David Barney to act on our behalf. On examining the case, he realised that we were in danger of being seriously disadvantaged financially due to mistakes made in a previous property transaction. Mr Barney eventually managed to convince the Notaire managing the property sale that our claim for a larger share of the proceeds was correct. This led to a positive result for us which significantly exceeded Mr Barney's fees.
Mr AM – June 2016
We have just returned from France having purchased a house in very good condition compared with others of the same type. i.e. old stone built Bastide houses.
Thanks to your comments and advice I was able to get many necessary improvements carried out by the Vendors before we signed the final ‘acte’, and this has allowed us to get the work for our changes underway promptly after the purchase.
A. D. Isle of Wight – June 2016
I have just purchased a French property with the help of Mr. Barney.
Anyone familiar with property sales will know it is a very rare thing indeed for a property transaction to go through without any problems, let alone one across international borders, and ours was no exception, however, at all times David was very helpful, approachable, gave clear explanations, and did a superb job ensuring the sale progressed to its conclusion.
When any queries were raised David's answers were always prompt and informative. David did a fantastic job for me and I would gladly recommend him and use him again myself in the future should the need arrive.
Ms LW of Colne Lancs – July 2016
I needed to seek professional help with regard to re-imbursement of an overpayment of French Social Tax following the sale of my property in 2013.
My search on the internet led me to contact Barney &Co Solicitors , initially being hesitant and not the lease a little sceptical about the likelihood of a successful outcome/conclusion of my claim due to the complexities with regard to French law.
I am pleased to say that due to David Barney’s professionalism, knowledge and perseverance my fears were unfounded and resulted in a successful conclusion to my claim.
I would therefore have no hesitation in recommending Barney & Co Solicitors in relation to French law.
Mr RC of Sussex – August 2016
I required a solicitor to handle the purchase of a Chalet in France. The internet guided me to Barney& Co Solicitors, so I called David Barney and spoke to some extent over my options and the best way to proceed over a conversation lasting a good 30 minutes.
David called me back with answers to several questions that I raised and this is what gave me the confidence in his expertise and client attention. Subsequently I instructed David to handle my affairs and deal with the other parties demanding client and solicitor which he did.
The outcome is the purchase was undertaken with ease and only the speed of French property process slowed the process. I would strongly recommend David and his associates.
Mrs KW of Bristol – August 2016
I contacted David 3 years ago looking for some advice and assistance after my father passed away. My father partly owned a property in France which formed part of his estate which was governed by French Inheritance Law. David was able to offer immediate assistance and pointed out areas where I was likely to be vulnerable or taken advantage of. Unfortunately this led to a 3 year dispute with another party, however David’s commitment to my case was impressive. His knowledge of French Inheritance law is second to none and he fought very hard to ensure I got what was rightfully mine. His knowledge, explanations and powerful letters (that always packed a punch!) repeatedly filled me with confidence and support through was what was a very difficult time for me. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend David to anyone who requires help/advice regarding French Inheritance Law. Thank you David for your help!
H and M of Scotland – September 2016
We found David via an internet search and were so pleased that we found him. He made the buying of our property in France much easier as we do not speak French as yet. He was always at the end of the phone when we needed an answer and always responded quickly to any queries we had. We always felt he was on our side the whole way through - would happily recommend or use again if we purchase again in France.
Mr MS – October 2016
Selling or purchasing a house in France can be a difficult, exasperating and time-consuming exercise. Mr Barney removes all that pressure. He is always available, understands the minutiae of French law with regard to housing and provides a level of support and assistance I have not experienced elsewhere in our legal services. If you are considering purchasing or selling a property in France I cannot recommend him more highly. He is your man.
Mr M – December 2016 Cornwall
I used the legal services of David Barney to assist with the sale of my house in France. I found him to be extremely professional and, having never been through this process before, his thorough knowledge of the subject was very reassuring. The sale went through smoothly and I would highly recommend his services to anyone looking for advice on French legal matters.
Ms EO – February 2017 Gillingham
David is friendly, professional and helpful. We were so delighted that he was able to assist in our French property purchase and he has put our minds at rest moving closer to ownership! We would not hesitate to recommend the service we have been provided with.
Mrs TG – March 2017 Halifax
I used David Barney to assist with a Tenancy Agreement for my daughter who was moving to live in Paris, the apartments go so quickly and we needed a quick response. I would highly recommend his services.
Mr CN – June 2017 France
I want to thank you for devising and guiding the strategy that has ended this sad matter in my favour. The relief I feel is almost beyond expression. I also want you to know that I never once doubted you, your superb professionalism or the outcome. My only worry was that XXXX and XXXX’s children would string it out for years, that they did not do so must be entirely down to you. The copy letters and emails I have had from you since our first meeting in April last year can in no way tell the whole story and I shall ever be intrigued to know how you got them to agree. All I can say is you have my heartfelt and very sincere thanks for all that you have done.
Mr CS – July 2017
David Barney was willing to engage and able to qualify my needs. He provided excellent advice that was specific to my circumstances. He was straight talking using layman’s language and gave me confidence in his abilities. A genuine bloke who I would recommend to anyone considering purchasing French property.
Mrs CM of Cheshire – August 2017
David, I would like to thank you for your immense efforts in dealing with what was a very difficult situation with my Corsican succession and subsequent inheritance. It was extremely frustrating and emotive for me and you were exceptionally dignified and exemplary in your dealings with the notaries in Corsica who were unprofessional, obstructive and unethical in the whole matter. You were tenacious and unwavering at all times. Thank you.
Mrs LB – September 2017
Mr David Barney (of Barney & Company Solicitors) was able to resolve a potentially complicated matter involving the transfer of the ownership of a property in France during one telephone conversation. His grasp of the situation and the subsequent advice given was clear offering a simple solution to the problem and most gratefully received.
Mr PB of Swindon – September 2017
David Barney simplified what would have been a complex process. I would recommend David to anyone wishing to complete a property transaction in France.
Mr & Mrs W – Lincolnshire – September 2017
We really appreciated David Barney’s knowledge input support and sensitivity. We were very impressed with the professional calm friendly way David supported us during a very stressful few months. His patience, fairness and quality of advice was outstanding. David was easy to work with and understood our needs. As we live 200 plus miles away we thought it would have been quite difficult to get everything completed but David dealt with everything. We were impressed by access to David and his ability to deal quickly and efficiently with links via email and phone. Copies of documents were promptly delivered so no part of the house sale conveyance was delayed. We are truly thankful for all his help.
Mr MG – Bristol – October 2017
David Barney helped me in a complicated case in which my former marital home in France was placed under a Mesher order by a UK court. When the Mesher order came to term, it was far from clear how the house should be sold and I assumed - erroneously as it turned out - that I needed a French avocat to supervise the process. After months of fruitless meetings with the avocat including lengthy periods in his waiting room and several missed appointments on his part, I was making absolutely no progress. In frustration, I turned to David, who grasped my situation just minutes into our first conversation.
He informed me that the French avocat was taking me down completely the wrong legal route, which would have left all parties considerably worse off. He helped me draft a new UK court order to sell the house, which adhered to the original order and allowed me to achieve all the objectives that the French avocat had told me were unrealistic. David was always available and a constant support in an extremely stressful situation. Indeed, in multiple discussions involving other avocats, UK solicitors, immobiliers, experts and Notaires, he was the only professional I felt was really on my side. I believe David’s involvement shortened a painful and anxiety-ridden process by about six months and led to a better outcome for everyone.
Mr BD – March 2018
Thank you for your valued information - it was extremely helpful to talk with you and your advice has enabled us to have a very clear picture of the situation regarding our french property and will be acted upon. Thank you very much for your effort.
Mrs LT of Cornwall – May 2018
I would like to place on record the experience I have had in dealing with an inheritance of a close relative domiciled in France. After the first few years, it became clear that my first selected law firm was less competent than I first understood them to be. I sacked them and took on another firm, one that advertised Nationally and Internationally as expert in French law. After high levels of initial interest, they too failed to gain any real ground, and some years later I found myself in a situation with no real progress, and much poorer financially.
David Barney then took over, and it was clear from the outset that his expertise was matched by his enthusiasm to move things along. Although it took another few years to complete the inheritance, I wish that David Barney had been my first port of call.
Ms RM of Brighton – May 2018
We needed to sell our country property in France whilst completing the legal transfer of the house into our names following a bereavement.
David was absolutely fantastic, he was incredibly knowledgeable about the whole process and made sure that all parties did what was required of them at all stages, which was not always easy! David was very persistent and led the sale through to completion. I would fully recommend David to others looking to sell properties in France.
Thank you very much David, you took what was a very overwhelming situation for us and made it understandable and possible. We could not have done it without you’
Mr & Mrs AP of Somerset – July 2018
My wife and I contacted David Barney in October 2017 as we wanted to sell a property in France, which had serious legal issues with regards to beneficiaries after a colleague’s death. We can confirm that David has been a great asset in fighting our corner and I would go as far as to say that David’s knowledge of French Property Law is probably more extensive than Notaires based in France. In our case, I am positive that if it had not been for David’s knowledge and know how, we probably would not have been able to proceed to a successful completion and sold the property.
I would have no hesitation in strongly recommending that you contact David Barney in the event that you have a property in France that you may wish to sell or that you may be considering purchasing a property in France.
He will provide you with all the information required and will give you every assistance in ensuring that you have the right advice in any proposed transaction.
Mr TB of Liverpool – July 2018
I was very grateful for David’s friendly advice and deep knowledge of French inheritance law during the settlement of my father’s estate. He answered my questions promptly and with courtesy and pointed out several important factors that the notaries had missed.
Mr WB of Bristol – July 2018
I would like to take this opportunity, to thank David Barney, of Barney and co, for having worked tirelessly over the last year, to bring closure to my late fathers estate.
David kept us informed every step of the way, and his knowledge in French law , and his persistence was the key to being able after so long to bring this to its conclusion. I would highly recommend David to anyone .
A Recent Client – October 2018
I first contacted David Barney in 2017 as my fiancé and I were wanting to make the move to France. Our plan was to find a house with a couple of gites that we could buy, live in the main house and run the 2 gites as a business. Right from the outset David was invaluable. He set out the whole buying process – which was key to our planning, but in addition to that, as the French legal system is very different to UK law, he explained how other areas of French law could impact on us e.g. wills and succession, tax as well as matrimonial law, enabling us to plan for/mitigate against.
Having given us really sound advice on the overall legal implications he then became pivotal to the whole buying process liaising with the notaire and seller on our behalf, providing translations of key communications and just ensuring the whole process went smoothly end to end. And it did. We are now living in a converted barn in the Poteau Charante region and have the farm house and stables to rent out for next years holiday season. I could not recommend David highly enough to anyone looking to buy in France having the reassurance of David acting on our behalf coupled with his legal expertise meant that our whole experience couldn’t have been better or the purchase any smoother.
Mrs J S of London – March 2019
David Barney has been instrumental in untangling the Gordian knot of my late husband’s French succession by compelling a reluctant Notary to engage with the paperwork after two years of unresponsive delay. He has been both supportive and knowledgeable and I live in hope of the process being brought to a satisfactory conclusion in the near future.
Mrs SD – March 2019
I accessed a 20 minute free consultation with David. His advice about property inheritance laws and taxes in France was really helpful and beneficial to our decision making. Without this advice, we could have ended up in a legal quagmire!’ David comes highly recommended.
Barney & Co offer a FREE INITIAL DISCUSSION for not more than 20 minutes of your requirements relating to the purchase or sale of French property or issues relating to that property such as Wills succession rights.