Two cases are due to be heard this week. It is the penultimate week of the Hilary term and these are the last two cases listed. On Monday and Tuesday a nine strong bench consisting of Lords Phillips, Hope, Rodger, Walker, Lady Hale and Lords Brown, Mance, Collins and Kerr will hear the case of Radmacher (formerly Granatino) v Granatino. The Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold a pre-nuptial agreement between Ms Radmacher, of one of Germany’s richest women, and her ex-husband Mr Granatino, has been viewed by many commentators as a clear indication that judicial opinion on the enforceability of pre-nuptials has shifted. Under English law a pre-nuptial is not a binding contract as such as under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 the court must “have regard to all the circumstances of the case”. The Supreme Court will determine, firstly, whether the Court of Appeal erred in finding that pre-nuptial contracts ought to be given decisive weight, where entered into freely by both parties, in an assessment under section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, and secondly, whether the Court of Appeal decision amounted to impermissible judicial legislation, in contravention of the decision of the Privy Council in MacLeod v MacLeod (Isle of Man)  UKPC 64. Our case preview is here and the case details can be found on the Supreme Court website here.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Lords Phillips, Hale, Brown, Kerr and Clarke will hear A v Essex County Council. The case involves an alleged breach of A’s human rights after A, a child with special educational needs, was excluded from school and the Respondents failed to provide suitable alternative educational provision for 19 months. Both the trial judge and Court of Appeal dismissed A’s claim. The issue for the Supreme Court is whether a failure to provide a disabled child with an effective education as a matter of law can constitute a breach of Article 2, Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights and therefore justify an award of damages. Our case preview is here and the case details can be found on the Supreme Court website here.
The court has also announced that judgment will be handed down next Wednesday in the case of British Airways plc v Williams and others which we previewed here. The issue for the court is whether the payment of basic pay only to airline pilots while they are on annual leave is in breach of regulation 4 of the Civil Aviation (Working Time) Regulations 2004. In deciding this point the court must consider the applicability of the ECJ decision in Robinson-Steel v R.D Retail Services that under the Working Time Directive holiday pay should be such as to put workers in the same position as regards remuneration as if they had been at work.
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council will, yet again, have no hearings and give no judgments. Such is the paucity of business that the Judicial Committee website has started to list “costs hearings”. It remains unclear whether the remaining parts of the Commonwealth have simply become less litigious or the Privy Council has decided not to list any cases this term.