Thursday, May 24, 2007

English Court Wants Enforceable Pre-Nuptial Agreements

The English Court of Appeal has dismissed the husband’s widely-publicized appeal in a so-called 'big money case' of an award to his wife of 36% of the matrimonial assets. Charman v Charman, [2007] EWCA Civ 503.

In a special conclusion entitled “Post-Script: Changing the Law,” the Court went out of its way to encourage the Government to change the law so as to provide greater predictability. In particular, the Court focused on the need to clarify the English law concerning prenuptial agreements.

The Court stated that:

“The difficulty of harmonising our law concerning the property consequences of marriage and divorce and the law of the Civilian Member States is exacerbated by the fact that our law has so far given little status to pre-nuptial contracts. If, unlike the rest of Europe, the property consequences of divorce are to be regulated by the principles of needs, compensation and sharing, should not the parties to the marriage, or the projected marriage, have at the least the opportunity to order their own affairs otherwise by a nuptial contract? The White Paper, "Supporting Families", not only proposed specific reforms of section 25 but also to give statutory force to nuptial contracts. The government's subsequent abdication has not been accepted by specialist practitioners. In 2005 Resolution published a well argued report urging the government to give statutory force to nuptial contracts. The report was subsequently fully supported by the Money and Property Sub-Committee of the Family Justice Council.”