Prenuptial deal wins day in £100m divorce case
Heiress Katrin Radmacher's long legal battle with her former husband over her £100m (€114m) fortune gave the pre-nuptial agreement decisive power in the English divorce courts yesterday.
Unlike the US and the rest of Europe, the contracts where couples agreed how they would divide their assets if they split up had little force in England.
Reliance by English family court judges on the dictum that marital wealth should be divided equally had led to London becoming the divorce capital of the world.
But yesterday the Supreme Court, the highest in the land, ruled by a majority of eight justices to one that in the right cases, a pre-nup can have decisive or compelling weight.
Nicolas Granatino, former husband of the German heiress, took the case to the Supreme Court after appeal judges slashed his divorce settlement from more than £5m (€5.7m) to £1m (€1.1m).
Appeal judges had ruled that "decisive weight" should be given to the agreement signed before he married that he would make no claims on Ms Radmacher's fortune.
The case was seen by lawyers as the ultimate test of whether the agreements were applicable in English law.
The justices dismissed the ex-husband's appeal, saying that following their ruling "it will be natural to infer that parties entering into agreements will intend that effect be given to them".
Lord Phillips, president of the Supreme Court, said the courts would still have the discretion to waive any pre-nup or post-nup agreement, especially when it was unfair to any children of the marriage.
Ms Radmacher, who was present at the Supreme Court for the ruling, said afterwards: "I am really pleased with the ruling but saddened at the four-year process that brought us to this point.
"I am delighted that Britain has upheld fairness. It is important to me that no one else should have to go through this."
Mr Granatino and Ms Radmacher married in 1998 when she was running a boutique in Beauchamp Place, London, and Mr Granatino worked for JP Morgan where at the height of his career he was earning as much as £325,000 (€369,000) a year.
At the time of their separation in 2006, Mr Granatino was studying for a DPhil in biotechnology at Hertford College, Oxford, and Ms Radmacher had amassed a fortune from her family's paper company.
Mr Granatino, a French national, was divorced from his former wife, reputed to be one of the richest women in Europe, in 2007.