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Heiress sacks Vardag for Farrers ahead of Supreme Court ruling

13 October 2010

Farrer & Co, the firm that acted for Prince Charles in his divorce from Princess Diana, will be appearing at the Supreme Court as lawyers for Katrin Radmacher next week.

Ayesha Vardag, who acted for the German heiress from the beginning of the case through to her appeal in the Supreme Court, was replaced over the summer by Simon Bruce, head of family at the Lincoln’s Inn firm.

The Supreme Court ruling in Radmacher v Granatino was expected before the summer break but according to Solicitors Journal sources significant differences between the justices have delayed a final decision.

Earlier today the Supreme Court put an end to speculations, saying the decision would be handed down on Wednesday next week (20 October).

Katrin Radmacher, reported to be one of Germany’s wealthiest women, and Nicolas Granatino, a French national, signed a prenuptial agreement in Germany before getting married in England.

The prenup provided that, should they divorce, he would not make any claims to the assets she had accumulated before the marriage.

Prenups are recognised both in Germany and in France, but when the couple started divorce proceedings in the High Court, Mrs Justice Baron said it would be “manifestly unfair” to hold Granatino to the agreement.

In July last year, the Court of Appeal partly reversed the High Court’s ruling and reduced Radmacher’s £5.8m payout to her former husband to a lump sum about a fifth of the value.

Calling for greater recognition of prenups, Lord Justice Thorpe said in Radmacher v Granatino [2009] EWCA Civ 649: “In future cases broadly in line with the present case on the facts, the judge should give due weight to the marital property regime into which the parties freely entered.”

Earlier this summer the Law Commission postponed its proposal for the possible introduction of prenups in English law pending the outcome of the case.

One option said to be considered would involve an automatic assumption that only assets jointly accumulated after marriage would constitute matrimonial property. Couples could still agree to opt into a wider regime including the assets spouses had acquired before marriage.

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