Scottish couple sue Diageo, claiming alcohol vapour is ruining their property

They are suing Diageo Scotland for 40,000 in an action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
They are suing Diageo Scotland for 40,000 in an action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
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A couple who claim that the "angel's share" of evaporated alcohol from a whisky bond has blighted their property have secured a ruling allowing them to proceed with suing a distilling giant.

Thomas and Gail Chalmers maintain that the vapour has caused damage to outdoor furniture and their house in Bonnybridge, in Stirlingshire, and that the value of the property has been diminished.

They are suing Diageo Scotland for £40,000 in an action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The firm previously tried to have the claim dismissed but a judge rejected the move and following further procedure a second judge has allowed the case to go to an evidential hearing.

Lord Tyre said: "In my opinion the pursuers (the Chalmers) have given sufficient notice of costs and other losses which, if all were to be established in evidence, might amount to the sum sued for or thereabouts."

He added: "My view as just stated should not, of course, be interpreted as the expression of any opinion as to the likelihood of the pursuers succeeding on liability or, if they do so succeed, on their prospects of recovering the whole of the damages that they seek."

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In the action the couple, of Woodlea Gardens, claim that the "nuisance" of ethanol vapour, given off as whisky matures, in the atmosphere has caused a black fungus on houses in the area.

They maintain that the value of their house has been reduced by about five to 10 percent because of the effects of the fungus on properties. They originally bought the new build for nearly pounds 140,000 in 2002 and in May 2017 its value was in the region of pounds 190,000 to 195,000.

It is said in the action that Mr Chalmers cleaned the back of the house once a year and has found through trial and error that thin bleach works best, with 16 bottles needed for the task.

The couple said their cars are also effected by the fungus and each requires to be valeted at least once and sometimes twice a year at a cost of about pounds 100 a time.

They also maintain they are restricted in the colour of paint they can use in their garden, having to choose colours which try to reduce the visual impact of the black fungus.

Diageo claim that the blackening complained of does not cause serious disturbance, substantial inconvenience or material damage and property values are not impacted.

The case came back before Lord Tyre for a debate because Diageo maintained that the couple had still failed to state a relevant and sufficiently specific case over the quantification of their alleged loss and damage.

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But the judge said he was satisfied that the couple's pleadings in relation to costs and expenses was specific enough for the case to go to an evidential hearing.

Lord Tyre said: "I consider that the proper measure of the pursuers' loss, if any, ought to be determined after the hearing of evidence, especially on the contentious issue of whether the presence of black discolouration has in fact caused a diminution in the value of their property."