German heiress pre-nup deal test case in British court

LONDON- A battle by one of Europe's richest women to have pre-nuptial agreements recognised in English law came before Britain's highest court Monday, in a case that could affect future divorce settlements.
Lawyers for German heiress Katrin Radmacher, thought to be worth 100 million pounds (110 million euros, 150 million dollars), asked the court to recognise a pre-wedding agreement signed by her ex-husband that he would make no claims on her fortune.

Katrin Radmacher
Katrin Radmacher
Radmacher, an heiress to a paper company, divorced French university researcher Nicolas Granatino in 2007.
English law does not normally consider pre-nuptial agreements as binding but her lawyers argue the deal should be considered as such when deciding on their divorce settlement, as are such agreements in many countries.
Granatino, 38, has asked the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court's decision to slash a divorce settlement awarded to him from about five to one million pounds because of the deal signed in 1998, before they married.
Nicholas Mostyn, representing Granatino, told the Supreme Court Monday that the Court of Appeal ruling was impermissible as it amounted to a court legislating on pre-nuptial agreements which are not recognised in English law.
The divorce battle is viewed as a test of whether such agreements are applicable under English law and if Granatino's bid is dismissed, it could have far-reaching implications for separating couples.
"We are aware that a number of cases have been stalled pending the outcome of this case," said Mostyn.
If his appeal at the Supreme Court is dismissed, Granatino must pay back maintenance from his former wife together with all the costs of the case from his reduced lump sum, said the lawyer.
Radmacher, in her argument to the court, denies her ex-husband faces financial ruin.
Her lawyer Richard Todd argues various steps by Radmacher, such as giving her former husband the use of rent-free property and paying off his debts, mean that she will continue to support him for some years to come.
Pre-nuptial agreements should be treated as binding in English law by judges when deciding on marriage settlements, he said.

Tuesday, March 23rd 2010

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