Italy's Supreme Court rules neighbor's loud flushing is human rights violation

The ruling follows a nearly 20-year court battle

Updated: January 19, 2022 - 10:25am

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Italy's highest court has added the sound of a toilet flushing at night to a list of human rights violations that includes enslavement, torture and forced starvation.

The European nation's Supreme Court concluded a 19-year legal battle that began with a couple living in an apartment who had a neighbor with a toilet that apparently kept them awake through the night with "intolerable noises," according to the Il Giornale newspaper.

The court cited rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, quashing the rulings of lower courts that had ruled against the couple. At one point, an appeals court in Genoa investigated the issue and discovered that the four brothers who owned the toilet had placed the device's water tank inside of a nine-inch wall not far from the couple's headboard.

According to the foreign news outlet, the appeals court ruled that the sound of flushing at night negatively impacted the quality of life of the couple, in addition to violating their right to the free exercise of daily habits as established by the European Convention on Human Rights.

The judge therefore ruled that the brothers would have to move their water tank and pay the couple about $565 for every year since the tank was installed – more than $10,000 in total. Following the ruling, the brothers asked Italy's Supreme Court to step in, but the high court also ruled against them. 

The nearly two-decade neighborly dispute is not a rarity among the famously slow Italian courts.

According to the European Union's Justice Scoreboard, Italy has Europe's least efficient judicial process, with courts typically taking about a year and a half to reach an initial conclusion in a civil or commercial case, and often more than two years for a first appeal to be completed.