THE AGE of the pre-nup has finally arrived in the UK.
The Supreme Court yesterday upheld a landmark ruling that gives credence to prenuptial agreements in England and Wales.
The case examined whether the pre-marriage pact between German heiress Katrin Radmacher and Frenchman Nicolas Granatino should be considered as part of their divorce settlement.
The ruling yesterday is the first time such an agreement has been given legal status. However, in cases where the pre-nup is considered unfair a judge can maintain the right to waive the contract.
The ruling means Granatino, who has two daughters with the £100m heiress, will only receive £1m from his initial £5.8m reward.
The decision is likely to open up a lucrative new revenue stream for family lawyers, with Stephen Foster, head of divorce at Stewarts Law, saying pre-nups could now become the norm among independently wealthy couples.
He said: “The Supreme Court have created a rich man’s, or in the case of Mrs Radmacher, rich woman’s, charter to drive a hard bargain prior to marriage. The trickle of pre-nuptial agreements will now become a torrent.”
Joe Vaitilingam, partner at specialist City divorce law firm Hughes Fowler Carruthers, welcomed the decision, calling it “a modern judgment for a modern age” and adding it should “deter gold diggers where the wealthy are involved”.
City figures who will be wishing they had been able to take advantage of the ruling include Brian Myerson, who was ordered to pay his ex-wife Ingrid a staggering £11m, and Alan Miller, whose ex Melissa pocketed a cool £5m after three years of marriage.
PAYNE HICKS BEACH
Nicolas Granatino walked away from the Supreme Court yesterday knowing he would be substantially poorer, although it wasn’t for lack of high-powered legal advice.
On his side were the team from Payne Hicks Beach, including Fiona Shackleton, the partner at the firm most fondly remembered for being drenched by Heather Mills while she was representing Sir Paul McCartney.
Shackleton, nicknamed the “Steel Magnolia” is one of the country’s leading family law solicitors. Among her clients are Princes William and Harry. However, she was most famous for representing former Beatle McCartney and pop-queen Madonna during her divorce from filmmaker Guy Ritchie.
She graduated from Exeter University with a third class degree before qualifying as a solicitor in 1980. Within six years she had become a partner at royal solicitor Farrer and Co. Her first high profile case was representing Prince Andrew during his messy divorce from Sarah Ferguson. She later also worked on Prince Charles’ divorce from Diana.
She joined Payne Hicks Beach in 2001. She also represented former Arsenal star Thierry Henry’s wife during their divorce after the forward left for Barcelona. Her famous quote that “a courtroom is a barbaric venue in which to pick over the carcass of a failed marriage” has never rung truer than during the protracted Radmacher case.
Also representing Granatino was the man dubbed Britain’s top divorce lawyer, Nicholas Mostyn QC.
He is famed for the £5m payout he won for Melissa Miller, the wife of a City fund manager, after a marriage lasting less than three years, in which no children were involved.
He also won Karen Parlour, ex-wife of footballer Ray, a share of her husband’s future earnings after arguing that she had saved him from a life of alcoholism and thus allowed him to continue his career.