The case of
Radmacher v Granatino
was recently heard in the Supreme Court in what was Nicholas Mostyn QC’s last case as an advocate before taking up a full time position as a High Court Judge.
As so few cases make it to the highest court in the land it has obviously garnered much public interest. The headline facts are well known:- an extremely wealthy German Heiress (Frau Radmacher) married a French banker (Mr Granatino). 2 children were born during the marriage. The pre-nuptial agreement prevented Mr Granatino from making any claims for financial provision in the event of a divorce from Frau Radmacher.
Mr Granatino reneged on the agreement and made claims for financial provision against Frau Radmacher. The trial Judge took the pre-nuptial agreement into account but still awarded Mr Granatino in the region of £5.8m including outright provision for housing and maintenance for life.
Frau Radmacher appealed to the Court of Appeal who were heavily influenced by the fact that in both Frau Radmacher’s native Germany and Mr Granatino’s native France the pre-nuptial contract would have been upheld and Mr Granatino would have received nothing. However far from upholding the agreement the Court of Appeal ordered that the property should revert to Frau Radmacher upon the youngest child reaching the age of 22. The spousal maintenance order in Mr Granatino’s favour should stop at the same time. Mr Granatino appealed the Supreme Court to restore the original Order.
It is essential that the Supreme Court provides clear guidance on this issue. The law on pre-nuptial agreements in England and Wales has been uncertain for far too long. Surely provided that there has been no undue influence or pressure then Pre-Nuptial agreements should either be upheld completely or, if not, then it is up to the trial judge to determine what reduction there should be to the financial award to reflect the fact that a pre-nuptial arrangement exists. In the absence of law reform (and the Law Commission are looking into this topic at the moment) the Supreme Court will have to give clear guidance. We think that it is likely that the Supreme Court will say that the Court of Appeal should not have interfered with the original Order. However the outcome is far from certain in what is the most eagerly awaited decision relating to family law since the McFarlane case in 2006.
We will file a further post as soon as the Supreme Court’s decision is known.
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