In a recent case, a pre-nuptial agreement made between a woman and her former husband was held to be binding by the Supreme Court. The couple had agreed, before they married in 1998, that should the marriage fail neither would benefit financially.
Katrin Radmacher, a German heiress, drew up the pre-nuptial agreement to protect her £106 million fortune should her marriage to Nicolas Granatino, a former investment banker, end. The High Court had awarded Mr Granatino more than £5 million, but this was dramatically reduced on appeal. Mr Granatino’s appeal to the Supreme Court was made on the basis that he had not known the extent of Ms Radmacher’s wealth and had not received proper legal advice at the time the pre-nuptial agreement was made.
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, ruling that in circumstances such as this, consenting adults should reasonably be expected to abide by the agreements they have made.
This decision changes the landscape on divorce settlements by creating a precedent on which other couples can now seek to rely. However, Lord Phillips, President of the Court, was at pains to point out that the courts would still have the discretion to overrule the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement, particularly in cases in which the operation of the agreement would be unfair to any children of the marriage.