Penalty clause issue: why blame realtor?

Buying a PV condo, step 16: first lawyer had quit and Canadian consul was rude

I want to take a moment to answer a question that shows up in my e-mail box quite often: Why is Eddy the Realtor getting all the blame for the contract not having a proper “penalty clause?”


It’s a good question. In the end the fault lies with me. But if you remember, our family lawyer of many years in Victoria, B.C., quit in a rage because he felt Mexican laws would not protect us enough and it might come back on his head if something went wrong.

His firm backed him up; they felt their insurance coverage might take a hit if we sued for professional incompetence.

All right, then, why did I not get a Mexican lawyer of my own?

I discovered that the Canadian consulate here in Puerto Vallarta had a list of recommended local lawyers. Now I am not sure how fair this is, but I found the consul to be horrible with little or no desire to help her fellow countrymen. She could not have been ruder or colder to me if she had tried.

In fact, there was an elderly woman outside the offices crying because she was getting no assistance from this same woman and her cohorts in returning her husband’s body home to Montreal.

When I asked to have a few words with the consul about my problem, she said, “Do you think I have time to speak with you? I am a very busy person! Here is the list. Goodbye!”


There was no one else in the office besides me, but I could hear the woman weeping outside.

This attitude brought back memories of my youth when I traveled the world. Most young Canadian back-packers quickly discovered that the Canuck embassies around the globe treated their own as if they were some sort of embarrassment, not to be taken seriously and mostly ignored. The majority of us would run to the Brit or Australian embassies instead, where we were kindly treated in the face of our own people’s indifference.

I was so upset by the way we are still treated by our over-entitled, over-pensioned public servants that when Eddy suggested I use his in-house lawyer, I tore up the government list. Perhaps not a smart move, but it felt great, plus I came to know that the list contained some of the more expensive large law firms, so it seemed a double win.

So that is how it came to pass that the penalty clause was not filled in where it said what the penalty would be.

To return to my tale, it was early January 2012 and the kids had returned to Canada after a great holiday at the hotel down the street from our condo, where we still did not have electricity, an elevator or the final sewer pipe laid.

I don’t want to think where the small amount of sewage produced by the workers actually went if the pipe to the city’s main line was sitting happily in the sun on the street below. All I knew was that the many men named Pepe who worked around the building were using the clean and sparkling facilities in our condo.

More than once I found all three of our bathrooms in use when I arrived on my morning rounds and there was no mortification on their part when they came out. In fact, through gestures and a few English words they congratulated me on the fine towels we had provided.

Word had spread, they said, and now all the laborers in the building made it a point to trek to the top of the building to try out our toilets. The leader beamed as if to say he felt that we should be aware of this happy fact. I declined the many offered handshakes.

We finally had our terrace tiled with the tile that we had not picked, but it was much better than the alternative. We began to make the “gringo dance” to Costco and Home Depot to buy furniture for the deck and balcony. These stores are full of groups of expats standing around sharing horror stories about what to buy or not and when the next shipment of this or that is expected.

Most sales assistants at these wonderful places do not speak much English, so when a group does find someone who is even semi-fluent, they make him their own but share a little with the others who are circling in desperation.

There is much shouting and exasperation. It is one of the few indoor sports in Puerto Vallarta.

Next: Eddy returns

The writer lives under a palapa in Puerto Vallarta.

© Christopher Dalton 2015

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  • estavan

    That rude Canadian Consul was fired for wrongdoing and illegal acts against me.

    • gerry

      If this Can, Consul, is the same french canadian gal, we had issues with her rudeness about 3 yrs. ago, glad to hear she finally got what was owed to her – walking papers !!!!!!!!!

    • MortimerSnerd

      ha ha… that’s why she was hired in the first place… government mandated gender balance and the French Connection to wave the obligatory Quebecois flag…competence and social skills were of no importance.

  • Francis Dryden

    You shouldn’t judge the Mexican people or laws living at a beach… 80% of the Mexican population lives above 3,000 feet above sea level and for good reasons.

    I spent 30 years in Canada in Real Estate and found the transaction when I bought my house, at Lake Chapala, to be as smooth or smoother than anything I had ever seen in Canada and I was involved in many, many transactions over the 30 years.

    Was your lawyer a Notario Publico (who would have a number) or an abagado… there is a massive difference in service and cost… the latter is great for a traffic ticket or the like.

    By the way my wife and I bought on her first visit (my second) to Lake Chapala and are still very, very happy with our purchase… our Realtors were a couple from Texas who had vast experience in Texas and a lot here and we used a Notario Publico. After much research and study, my wife has got her papers as a Realtor here and has a few transactions under her belt.

    You have to remember Chris… Mexico had a fully functional (or perhaps dysfunctional) bureaucracy when Canadians were still pooping over the back of a pair of moccasins!… that goes for the US too.

  • michael grosser

    Ho ho ho, the consulates are correct, you ARE an embarrassment ! Anyone who wants a condo in PF gets what they have coming……..har har har!!! Ho ho ho…keep the laughs coming I luv to see Canadians on the receiving end of a good screwing for a change!!! he he heeee A CONDO ?!! ho ho ho

    • Cool Hand Luke

      If your intent was to show you’re a jerk – you have succeeded.

      • michael grosser

        wut we have here is a failure to communicate…….luv ur name did u make it up ur self???

      • michael grosser

        wut we have here is a failure to communicate…….luv ur name did u make it up ur self???

  • michael grosser

    Wanna buy a bridge?? Hey I have some recreational property in Florida a guy like you might be interested in too!
    HOO hoo hooo (had a bit of a sheltered life, have you?) heee heee hee

  • mikegre

    But it didn’t have to take a lawyer to see the penalty clause was not filled in. You could have seen it yourself, no?

  • MortimerSnerd

    Canadian consulates and embassies are well known to be less than useless if and when you need them and consul staff tend to be insular and arrogant…why? Because they simply don’t have t do anything for any Canadian abroad. In Canada we have an election ongoing right now today, and by tonight lets hope some real change has happened. Trudeau has promised to heave the visa requirement for Mexicans… lets hope as our new PM, will keep that election promise.

  • dungeondevil

    This article and many others inform the Gringo public on WHY it is not wise to buy property in Mexico. just rent ‘n smile. Mexico is no different than other 3rd world Latino countries. If you come to Mexico and think you are in a country that practices British Law, as Canada and the U.S. do, then you are prime for the purchase of that “Brooklyn Bridge. Now there are exceptions, but WHY take a chance!