Case Studies | Property Investment Recovery

Lee Briscoe

lee briscoe

LEE BRISCOE's professional football career included 8 years at Sheffield Wednesday, as well as spells with Manchester City, Burnley and Preston North End. European nights with the Owls were the stuff of childhood dreams, with a dozen caps for England U21s the pinnacle in terms of footballing achievement, before a recurring hamstring injury forced early retirement at just 29.

Working at such a level, and with some truly great managers such as 'Big Ron' Atkinson, David Pleat, Joe Royle, Trevor Francis, Peter Taylor, Dave Sexton & Peter Bonetti – you'd expect to come out with a level head, with a sense of perspective, with an eye for detail – and a pretty good idea of how excellence is achieved.

Sure enough, Lee has managed to adjust to life beyond football, working now aged 34 in a management role within the construction industry, thoroughly settled down, quietly making his way through his coaching badges "in case opportunities should arise at some point later on to get back into the Game".

But when he retired five years ago he looked around for what to do next, and like so many footballers both during and at the end of their careers he decided to invest in a property abroad - a little luxury to show for his footballing success, and a little indulgence too as a consolation for its premature end. In 2005 property looked like a sure bet as well in terms of investment - "the markets across Europe were buoyant at the time and it seemed like an ideal addition to any investment portfolio".

"Around 75% of footballers coming out of the game were getting involved in property – either as an investment or for personal use. 'Risk' didn't come into it, mates were coming across developments that looked fantastic and we snapped up opportunities with everyone else".

Putting down a deposit on a development in Spain, Lee travelled to the region a couple of times a year on holiday and "popped in to see how the building was progressing". When a couple of years passed and nothing had materialised the alarm bells started to ring. The contractual delivery date was periodically pushed back and eventually he asked for a refund: "The UK contact became uncontactable, and I tried to go direct to the Spanish people, but they went to ground."

"Naivety comes into it of course" admits Lee, "the legal advice I was getting from the solicitors that acted for me and the developer in the initial transaction – with hindsight – may not have been particularly independent. But then there were lots of friends and contacts involved, forty or fifty of us, and in that crowd you just assumed it would be ok in the end. It got less and less hopeful, until we instructed Judicare".

Apart from the fact that Judicare recently succeeded in a Spanish court to obtain a ruling in his favour, ordering the developer to repay his deposit, interest and all costs, Lee points as much to the eighteen month journey with Judicare as the source of his satisfaction; "You feel a real connection with Judicare, partly because I guess the CEO Neil Heaney is an ex-pro [footballer], partly because he has been an investor with problems that seemed to have no solution - so he identifies with you. And his partner Jose Dorta, who is head of the legal team, is so knowledgeable and authoritative you just know he is in control of the case."

Lee cites communication – which had been such a problem – as one of the keys to relieving the stress that had been so pervasive. "Jose and Neil kept me in the loop with regular updates - both positive and negative - helping to turn the pessimism into a more grounded outlook, knowing that everything that could be done was being done".

"The free appraisal and the small up-front fee were also huge boosts to our confidence – you knew that the law-firm’s success was tied to winning the case – it wasn’t just about taking our money, but about getting justice for us and being paid for doing a great job.” He signs off with a grin that’s at once both relieved and cheery; “No matter how confident you are, you’ve got to get the right advice!"

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