Fife mansion owners ordered to stop hosting weddings lose second legal battle

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The owners of a historic mansion who were ordered to stop hosting weddings because of misbehaving guests have lost a second legal battle over use of a single track road.

Lawyers acting for Ian and Ruth Macallan went to the Sheriff Appeal Court in Edinburgh in a bid to reverse a decision made by a sheriff.

The couple had earlier taken farmer Ian Arbuckle and his family to a sheriff court. Mr Arbuckle owns a farm beside the Macallan’s Carphin House, which was built in the 18th century.

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The Macallans, of Luthrie, wanted an order which would allow them to use passing places and verges on a single track road which they use to get to the property. They also wanted an order which would prevent the Arbuckles from ‘obstructing’ the passing places and verges.

The road is used for access to the Macallan’s 18th century Carphin House.The road is used for access to the Macallan’s 18th century Carphin House.
The road is used for access to the Macallan’s 18th century Carphin House.

However, the land which the Macallans wanted access to is part of land owned by the Arbuckle family.

The parties live on properties which once formed part of the Carphin Estate. In 2016, previous owner Tobin Wemyss subdivided the estate up and sold the mansion house to the Macallans in late 2016. The Arbuckles purchased their farm soon after.

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The proceedings between the two parties focused on legal agreements which were drawn up following the sales.

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The Macallans believed they had the right to access the land in the farm.

However, lawyers for the Arbuckles argued the agreement only allowed the Macallans the right to use the road to get to their home.

A sheriff rejected the bid brought by the Macallans and concluded that they had “no right” to access the land and were only legally entitled to use the road.

The sheriff, who hasn’t been named, refused to allow the case to go to proof – a legal team meaning a civil trial.

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This prompted lawyers acting for the Macallans to go to the Sheriff Appeal Court in Edinburgh in a bid to reverse the decision.

However, appeal sheriffs Sheriff Principal Marysia Lewis, Sheriff Fiona Tait and Sheriff Thomas McCartney upheld their colleague’s decision.

In a written judgement issued at the court on Wednesday, Sheriff Principal Lewis concluded that their colleague had not misinterpreted the law.

She wrote: “The appellants maintain that the ancillary right is to have vehicular access to the Mansion House: not simply the right to use the access road.

“That is not what they acquired through the grant.

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"We acknowledge that a vehicle which cannot make progress along the roadway in face of oncoming traffic because it must reverse all the way back to the start instead of back only to the most recent passing place is inconvenienced – and no doubt sometimes significantly so – but we do not accept in light of the authorities that a right to move onto a passing place or onto the verges which lie out with the burdened area to allow other vehicles to pass is necessary for the comfortable use and enjoyment of the servitude.

“For the foregoing reasons, we do not find favour with the submission that the sheriff erred in refusing to appoint a proof before answer.”

It was reported in January 2019, that the Macallans were ordered to stop hosting weddings after complaints about guests spewing and urinating in public.

Residents complained about parties being held at the 18th century property.

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The Macallans used the house to host weddings in the grounds and claimed the business would create jobs and generate revenue for the local economy.

However horrified residents in the village said rowdy wedding revellers were making their lives a misery with some even complaining about drunken female wedding guests urinating in public areas.

In the judgement issued on Wednesday, Sheriff Principle Lewis said the Macallans would have to pay the legal bills of the Arbuckle family.

She wrote: “The respondents, having been successful, are entitled to their expenses and we find the cause suitable for the employment of counsel.”

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