A couple who complained 19 years ago that the loud flushing noise made by their neighbours’ toilet was “intolerable” have finally won their case in the Italian courts.
The pair’s long road to lavatory justice began in 2003 when they argued the disturbance caused by the new bathroom next door was getting in the way of a decent night’s sleep.
The toilet’s water tank had been built into the wall adjoining their bed, which was just 22cm thick, according to reports.
A judge in the nearby city La Spezia rejected their initial plea for compensation and the toilet’s removal.
But the decision was overturned by the court of appeal in Genoa, before the lawsuit was heard in the Italian supreme court, following a challenge by the four brothers who owned the neighbouring apartment.
In the latest verdict, the panel of justices cited the couple’s "right to respect for private and family life”, as set out under the European Convention on Human Rights. They said the noisy toilet meant the pair were unable to exercise their daily habits freely.
The top court’s decision means the brothers will have to pay damages of 500 euros (£420) for each year that has elapsed since the complaint was made, meaning they now owe almost 10,000 euros in total.
The toilet saga highlights the glacial speed of the Italian justice system, something the country’s prime minister Mario Draghi pledged to address last year.
The resolution of the bathroom dispute took longer than Albert Einstein did to develop his theory of relativity, one Italian newspaper remarked.
“If Franz Kafka had been an Italian citizen of today he would not have written ’The Trial,’ he would have written ‘The Toilet’ to describe justice in our country,” the journalist Massimiliano Parente wrote in the Milanese daily Il Giornale.
“At the judicial level, we are a big, huge, gigantic clogged toilet,” he added.
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