William and Kate: An Announcement

In light of the announcement of the engagement of Prince William and the failure of recent Royal marriages the Queen no doubt took a keen interest in the recent case of Radmacher and Grantino.

Radmacher reached all the way to the Supreme Court and went further than ever had been gone before in giving the seal of approval to pre-nuptial settlements.

Previously, for a pre-nuptial agreement to be binding certain procedural steps had to be taken.  Important among these were that each party had independent legal representation and that each gave full disclosure of their assets.

There was also the important principle that the pre-nuptial agreement was only one (albeit strong) factor to take into account.  Get those factors right however, and, subject to a fair wind, the pre-nuptial would often be upheld.  There were however many situations in which they would not be – for example if they failed to make provision for children, or they gave the poor wife nothing and left the husband’s wealth intact.

A lot of that changes now because of Radmacher. Gone is the requirement to obtain independent legal advice.  All you must show is that the person who didn’t receive the advice nonetheless fully understood what they were signing away.

The court left one get out – that the parties wouldn’t be held to the agreement if it would be unfair to do so.  But the judges were vague in explaining what exactly would constitute a good enough excuse to depart from the agreement.  Also consider this: Ms Radmacher was worth £200m, and Mr Grantino next to nothing.  If his claim was worth only 0.5% of her assets, it doesn’t give a great deal of encouragement to others in his position.

Including Miss Middleton.