Published: Wed, 07 Mar 2018
Granatino v Radmacher  UKSC 42
Validity of anti-nuptial agreement providing neither party should benefit from the other’s property
A French investment banker married a very wealthy German national. Prior to the marriage, at the request of the wife’s family, an anti-nuptial agreement was signed by both parties. The agreement provided that each party forego any interest or benefit from the other’s property acquired either before or during the marriage. They had two children but divorced after nine years and the husband claimed ancillary relief against the wife’s assets.
The husband contended he should not be bound by the terms of the agreement because he was nowhere near as wealthy as the wife, and he had not sought independent legal advice. He argued anti-nuptial agreements are contrary to public policy under MacLeod v MacLeod  1 AC 298 because the financially weaker party is inevitably under pressure to sign, they exclude the jurisdiction of the court which is unfair, and if they are to be accorded validity, it should be a matter for parliament to legislate to provide for their validity. The wife argued there was no legislation prohibiting such agreements, and parties should be free to agree between themselves how their assets are to be held. The husband entered the agreement of his own free will and should be bound by its terms.
The anti-nuptial agreement was valid. The rule that such agreements are contrary to public policy should no longer apply. A court could give effect to an agreement even if the result is different to that which the court would have ordered. If freely entered into, with all information available to both parties and in the absence of pressure, such agreements should be upheld, unless it would be unfair to do so.
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