Italian couple win 19-year battle with neighbours over noisy loo

·2 min read
   (ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Italy’s top court has enshrined the right to protection from loud lavatories after a 19-year battle between a tired couple and their neighbour’s flushing toilet.

The case began in 2003 when the couple, living in a flat near La Spezia, complained that a new bathroom installed by their neighbours was so loud it stopped them from getting a good night’s sleep.

Their bedstead was right up against the connecting wall to an apartment where the toilet had been installed.

The couple said their bedroom was too small to allow for the furniture to be rearranged, and took the case to court in the city of La Spezia, saying the noise of the flush was “intolerable”.

Their complaint was rejected by a judge.

Not backing down, they then referred the case to an appeal court in Genoa, which ordered an inspection of the two apartments and found that the flush was so loud that it “prejudiced the quality of life” of the couple.

Unhappy with that verdict, the four brothers who owned the apartment with the lavatory in question challenged the court’s judgment, taking the case to the Supreme Court in Rome.

But judges there have now ruled in favour of the couple, saying that the noise from the lavatory “infringed on their right to a good night’s sleep”.

The court ordered the brothers to pay their neighbours €500 (£420) compensation for every year since the complaint was first made in 2003 - amounting to €9,500.

One Italian newspaper, Il Giornale, said the story, while humorous in some respects, pointed to systemic failings.

“This is the reality of the judiciary and the reason why the Italian justice system doesn’t work,” it said.

“In far less time than this case took, Albert Einstein wrote the theory of relativity, explaining the whole Universe.

“At the judicial level, we are a great big, gigantic clogged loo.”

Italy’s justice system is notoriously slow, with cases taking years and even decades to grind through the courts.

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