THE PROFESSIONAL DUTIES OF THE BUSINESS AGENTS

Commercial matters

The business agents managed the purchase and sale of public securities in the Stock Exchange; the collection of cash and securities amounts from banks, savings banks and individuals; operations with the Treasury; presentation of drafts to collect their acceptance; renewal, exchange or update of all types of securities of the State or of companies, listed or not; collections of letters and credits; purchase of goods; consignment of goods, dispatch in transit and dispatch or re-shipment of packages; assistance to the recognition of merchandise and its appraisal; assistance to judicial or extrajudicial meetings of creditors, in bankruptcy, acquittance and arrangement proceedings, suspension of payments or bankruptcies; representations of debtors in the Boards and in the drafting of balance sheets, statements, reports, consultations, conferences and any incidents arising on the subject matter; representations of clients in all types of auctions; business reports; and for assistance in checking balances; inventory taking, seizure of goods, transfer of official addresses, etc.

Activities on works

For example, the constitution of deposit and extension and representation of the proposal for the auction of a work; the representation in auctions of works to carry out protests, observations and relevant claims; delivery of documents to the notary and payment of concession announcements in the Gaceta de Madrid; presentation and delivery of deeds of assignment of work; management of the incidents of a new work or of the conservation contract.

Real estate

Management of files before the General Directorate of Real estate properties concerning exceptions to the sale or incorporation of Chaplaincy assets into the State; Claims for the assets disposed of by the State corresponding to the Charity and Public Instruction, obtained from the confiscations proceedings; management of recognition of fraternities, brotherhoods and other religious institutions of a secular nature; appeals before the economic-administrative courts for sales declared void; management of records of use of pastures, communal lands and other similar actions.

Procedures of a general nature before the Public Administration

Management of Records of all kinds before public offices; representation of clients before the Administration; assistance, allegations or defence for alleged fraud or concealment of wealth in contributions, rents, excise taxes or taxes; writs, expositions or instances lodging of appeals or appeals.

All kinds of Registry activities

Procedures required to constitute the family council, appointment of the guardian and protector until the Registration of the Guardianship; Possession and domain files for the registration of real estates or rights in the Property Registries; records of release and cancellation of encumbrances and settlement of defective certificates; management of property titles in the Property Registries; management of the registration of deeds, powers of attorney and other documents of the companies in the Commercial Registry; settlement of in rem rights; management of the issuance of academic and nobility titles; authentication and legalization of documents before the Ministry of Grace and Justice; and translation and legalization of documents.

Inventions, trademarks, customs and Intellectual Property Registry

The business agents carried out the formalities required to obtain and register trademarks, commercial and agricultural marks; payment of patent annuities; procurement of patent certificates; registration of assignments of patents and claims and appeals; assignments of patents and trademarks; payment of royalties; verbal and written consultations on industrial law; translations required for the granting of patents; drafting and copying of descriptive reports in connection with patent applications: drawing up and registration of plans and drawings for the Registry, etc…

City Councils

The business agents also had functions to be exercised before these bodies, since they were dedicated to the collection of cash amounts, drafting all the relevant documentation and formalities; collections against the state funds for corporations; actions before the Cadastre Registry as a result of changes in the demarcations; complaint resources for abusive grazing, statements of responsibility in municipal accounts or for discoveries of consumption; claims to obtain rebates of tax dues; cancellation of fines; and matters related to homeowners associations, irrigation unions, neighbouring town councils or Provincial Councils.

Pensioners

The processing of pension files was offered in search of documents; collection of salaries and pensions and overdue loans; rehabilitation files, transfers and accumulations; resources, flyers of faith of life and loose documents.

Public Treasury

Management of proceedings claiming old credits of the Public Treasury and management of delivery orders of the Ministries of Government and Grace and Justice; formalities before the Treasury, Public Debt Management and Town Council Offices

War, Navy and Overseas Affairs

Management and collection of credits from the campaigns of Cuba and the Philippines; processing of applications before the State offices, military centres or settlement committees to justify any collection right; steps to request and obtain the return of amounts deposited to redeem the service in the ranks of the Army.

Constitution, renewal and cancellation of bonds

Constitution and cancellation of bonds in the Deposit Fund or other analogous unit, to guarantee public positions or contracted services; property recognition records following the decease of the owner of the deposit and management of lost files.


As the profession of Business Agent had covered a large number of professional subjects, which were subsequently broken down into professional specialties, such as court solicitors, pensioners’ representatives, industrial property agents, etc. the regulation began to cut functions, as occurs with the Royal Order of August 14, 1902, in which the arguments put forward by the Council of Ministers were focused on preventing any interference with the practice of other professions. In this case, the actions on loans, cheque books, drafts, promissory notes and transfer documents were cancelled, as well as the sale of merchandise; consignment of goods, their dispatch in transit and the dispatch and re-dispatch of packages in bulk; appraisal of merchandise and purchase and sale of properties.

This situation made the collection of tariffs varied and difficult to be control by the Treasury. That is why compulsory membership was suspended by Royal Decree of February 1, 1903, “Until the Ministries concerned, especially the Ministry of Finance, made a careful study of them to adopt a definitive reform on the subject.” However, on 2 May 1903, the Ministry of Finance, through a Royal Order, determined that the payment of the municipal tax is compatible with the payment of the industrial contribution.

Subsequently, the Royal Order of July 3, 1904 of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers established once again the voluntary membership, and finally supressed its compulsory nature. Once again, we have come full circle.

The Ministry of Public Works published on May 9, 1019, a Royal Order stating that “All the Centres and Dependencies of this Ministry are reminded of the need to demand Business Agents, when they initiate records or act as Agents in connection thereto, the justification of the payment of the industrial contribution; to be received at the time previously set so that they can be informed of the course and resolution of the matters under their management, reminding the officials of this Ministry the incompatibility established between their status as such officials and the practice of the business agent profession“.

Royal Order of May 5, 1919, issued at the request of the president of the College of Barcelona, Rafael de la Figuera, established the requirement to justify the appointment with the payment of a contribution to the Ministry of Finance, and to that effect, the Order previously issued by the Ministry of Public Works was extended. The objective of this new regulation was to avoid professional intrusion.

On April 14, 1931, another Royal Order was published in the Gaceta de Madrid, which reminded the Treasury officials of all categories, the legal prohibition of being “Agents or Representatives of any person, entity or Corporation that has pending matters in the central or provincial offices of the public Treasury; and giving preventions for the processing of files and dispatch of matters, for collection and payment transactions, and to indicate the hours set to receive the public and the business agents “.