Radmacher V Granatino (2010) [UKSC42]
The Supreme Court stated that ‘decisive weight’ should be given to the Prenuptial Agreement that was signed by Katrina Radmacher and Nicholas Granatino in Germany. Ms Radmacher was German, and Mr Granatino was French. They were both high earners, but Ms Radmacher had enormous family wealth. The Prenuptial Agreement was signed in Germany. The husband was unaware of the extent of the wife’s wealth and he refused to take independent legal advice. Under the Prenuptial Agreement he waived any claims to Ms Radmacher’s wealth. The Prenuptial Agreement would have been binding in both Germany and France.
However, Mr. Granatino brought his divorce claim and claim for financial relief into the English Courts, knowing that the English Courts were not bound by Prenuptial Agreements.
Prenuptial Agreements now carry more weight in English law. It was recognised that Prenuptial Agreements are already enforceable in Scotland, Germany and France and many other areas of Europe. The Supreme Court stated that they should look at whether the parties had entered into the Prenuptial Agreement voluntarily and understood its implications. If full financial disclosure has not been given then less weight will be given to the Prenuptial Agreement. In this case, the Prenuptial Agreement was signed in Germany, where it would have been enforceable. This showed a significant intention on both parties that they wanted the Prenuptial Agreement to be binding on them.
As is often the case in English Matrimonial Law, emphasis was given to what is ‘fair’ and what decision would meet the needs of Ms Radmacher and Mr Granatino. The court considered that Mr. Granatino was capable of creating his own wealth. He had been a high earner, and it was his choice that he was earning less now.
The Supreme Court did not consider it fair to give Mr Granatino a share of Ms Radmacher’s family’s wealth, which was independent of the marriage. The Supreme Court also stated that Mr Granatino had agreed to this by entering into the Prenuptial Agreement in the first place, and it had been his choice to leave his career as a banker in London.
This case sets a precedent given that it was heard in the Supreme Court. Prenuptial Agreements will now be given ‘decisive weight’ by the courts in exercising its decision on cases in future. It does not mean that all Prenuptial Agreements will be legally binding, but they are one of the factors to be taken into account and more weight will be given to them unless they are considered unfair.
It is still likely that the Court’s emphasis will be on how “fair” the Prenuptial Agreement is at the time of the divorce as to whether they enforce a Prenuptial Agreement in the English Courts.
The Law Commission is undertaking a review of the status and whether such Agreements should be enforceable. Clarity would be provided if the statute was enacted confirming the legality of such agreements.