Thirteen property buyers from Northern Ireland have won a £1m legal battle over Italian holiday homes that were never built.
Formal judgment is set to be entered in their favour after liability was admitted by a law firm involved in the sales process.
The investors paid out 50% deposits for apartments in Calabria in southern Italy nearly six years ago. But the proposed El Caribe development never took place.
Legal proceedings were launched at the High Court in Belfast against Gabriele Giambrone and his firm, Giambrone & Law. It was alleged that the defendants breached their professional duty to protect the deposits.
But just ahead of a planned trial, liability was conceded.
A judge will now make a formal ruling for the plaintiffs on Monday.
Mr Chambers, who has already settled individual claims by other investors, confirmed that around ?1.2m was paid in deposits.
He vowed that his clients would now fight on to enforce the judgment and seek to recoup their lost money.
“These 13 individuals invested in 2007 in what was sold to them as a dream holiday home in the south of Italy,” he said.
Their lawyer, Simon Chambers of Russell & Co Solicitors in Newtownards, said the case was fought “tooth and nail” right to the end.
He said: “The defendants have insisted on contesting these matters bitterly until at long last they admitted liability on the eve of the trial.
“Judgment will now be entered for the lost monies.”
”The defendant, through his law firm which was established in London, represented that they were specialists in overseas property transactions and would ensure that all appropriate legal checks would be carried out and proper protection would be in place to safeguard against risks to my clients' money.”
Mr Chambers added: “We are proud to obtain this unique and historic judgment against these defendants who are facing a large number of claims both in this and other jurisdictions.
“We are delighted that our clients can finally see some justice done.”
- Are you one of the property owners and want to tell your story? Contact the Belfast Telegraph news desk on 028 9026 4440.