On appeal from: [2009] EWCA Civ 649

Concerned the principles to be applied when a court, in considering the financial arrangements following the breakdown of a marriage, has to decide what weight should be given to an agreement between the husband and wife made before the marriage. The Court of Appeal gave decisive weight to a pre-nuptial contract providing that if the couple divorced, neither partner was to make a monetary claim against the other in any ancillary proceedings. The husband appealed. The Supreme Court (by a majority of 8 to 1) dismissed the appeal. The Court considered whether there were circumstances about the making of the agreement which detracted from the weight to give to it; if the foreign elements of the case added to the weight to be given to the agreement (it was binding under German law); and if there were circumstances that made its order that made it fair or just to depart from the agreement. Applying these principles to the facts, the Court of Appeal was correct to conclude that there were no factors which rendered it unfair to hold the husband to the agreement. He is extremely able and his own needs will in large measure be indirectly met from the generous relief given to cater for the needs of his two daughters until the younger reaches the age of 22. There was no compensation factor as the husband’s decision to abandon his career in the city was not motivated by the demands of his family but reflected his own preference. Fairness did not entitle him to a portion of his wife’s wealth, received from her family independently of the marriage, when he had agreed he should not be so entitled when he married her.

For judgment, please download: [2010] UKSC 42
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