German heiress wins pre nup case in Britain

July 2, 2009

, LONDON, Jul 2 – One of Germany\’s richest women won a British court case on Thursday upholding a pre-nuptial agreement that denies her ex-husband a slice of her multi-million pound fortune.

Katrin Radmacher, 39, a paper industry heiress, and Nicolas Granatino signed the agreement in Germany before marrying in London in 1998 that stipulated he would receive nothing if they eventually split.

A court last year awarded Granatino 5.6 million pounds (6.5 million euros, 9.1 million dollars) of her 100-million pound fortune after they divorced in 2006 despite the earlier agreement.

Radmacher asked the Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling on the basis of the agreement, which was recognised in France and Germany but had not been legally binding in Britain.

Radmacher\’s solicitor hailed Thursday\’s ruling as a legal milestone, saying the court had recognised that such agreements made by couples were decisive.

"Now, in a landmark judgment, three of the most highly-respected judges in the land have ruled that pre-nups can be decisive in determining the financial division on divorce," solicitor Ayesha Vardag said.

"From today grown-ups can agree in the best of times what will happen in the worst of times."

The couple\’s marriage reportedly floundered after Granatino, who is French, gave up a lucrative job in the finance industry to become a lowly-paid biotechnology researcher at Oxford University. The couple have two children.

The High Court ruled last year that it would be "manifestly unfair" to hold Granatino to the pre-nuptial agreement.

The court also said in that ruling that the arrival of the couple\’s children had "so changed the landscape" that the pre-nuptial agreement should be set aside.

But lawyers for Radmacher argued in the Court of Appeal that the freedom to agree a contract was "at the heart of all modern commercial and legal systems."

Radmacher had earlier agreed to pay off her former husband\’s debts of about 700,000 pounds.

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