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, 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.”

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

They maintain that the value of their house has been reduced by about 5-10 per cent because of the effects of the fungus on properties.

They bought the new-build property for nearly £100,000 in 2002 and in May 2017 its value was in the region of £190,000 to £195,000

In the action that Mr Chalmers has cleaned the back of his house once a year and has found, through trial and error, that thin bleach works best, with 16 bottles of it needed for the job.

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

They also maintain they are restricted in the colour of paint they can use in their garden and on the property, having to choose shades that help reduce the visual impact of the black fungus.

Bonnybridge residents have long complained that the black fungus has stained gutters, drain pipes, paintwork, cars, patio furniture, and anything left outdoors.

Pressure washing has proven only to be a temporary, partial solution – there is nothing the residents can do to stop the black fungus returning and staining their property.

There is also concern that the black staining will result in a loss of property value.

Diageo claim that the blackening they are complained about 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.

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.”