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Decoding Judgements: Picking Apart Prenuptial Agreements in Radmacher

15 September 2023 | CaseSnappy Team

Two gold-coloured rings sat atop a dictionary open on the definition of marriage.


Welcome back to another entry in CaseSnappy's "Decoding Judgements" series, where we dissect and distil pivotal UK legal cases. Today, we turn our attention towards family law, specifically spotlighting the role of prenuptial agreements – all through the magnifying lens of Radmacher v Granatino [2010] UKSC 42, a cardinal case that redefined prenuptial aspects in the UK family law landscape.

The Prenup Puzzle: Facts of the Case

Our protagonists are Katrin Radmacher, a German heiress and Nicolas Granatino, a French banker, who, after falling in love, took marriage vows. To safeguard her wealth, Radmacher proposed a prenuptial agreement; Granatino, albeit reluctantly, concurred, signing it without seeking legal advice. Their divorce eight years later triggered a legal battle over whether the impromptu, unadvised consent to a prenup is legally binding.

Duress or Decision: The Issues

The burning question was whether Granatino's lack of legal counsel and claimed duress rendered the prenup invalid and unenforceable. While the Court of Appeal ruled against enforcement, Radmacher sought the Supreme Court's intervention, leading to the landmark judgement that ensued.

The Binding Verdict: The Decision

In a ruling that sent ripples through family law, the Supreme Court upheld the prenup, despite Granatino not consulting a lawyer before signing. The judgement underscored the principle that parties should adhere to their agreements unless strong reasons suggest otherwise and found no convincing evidence to support Granatino's claim of duress.

The following quote encapsulates the court’s stance: "Is there a material distinction between ante-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements? Wilson LJ was not persuaded that there is (paras 125-126) and nor are we." (majority judgement at para 57)

CaseSnappy: Simplifying Legal Complexity

Radmacher v Granatino raises an intriguing dialogue about prenuptial agreements and the importance of legal counsel. At CaseSnappy, we continue to elaborate convoluted legal judgements making them comprehensible for law enthusiasts, students, and professionals.

Stay with us for our next piece in the "Decoding Judgements" series. Sign up to CaseSnappy for free to dive deeper into the vast ocean of legal knowledge – succinctly simplified and easily accessible.

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