NA v MA: FD 24 Nov 2006

The very wealthy H found that W had committed adultery with one of his friends. H pressured W to sign an agreement providing that she would receive a specified lump sum and annual payments if their marriage ended in divorce. W signed it because H insisted that she should do so if the marriage was to continue.
Held: Baron J said that: ‘as the idea of an agreement evolved it hardened into a legal, post-nuptial agreement’. It was on this basis that H sought to have the agreement converted into an order of the court. When dealing with the law Baron J did not distinguish clearly between ante-nuptial, post-nuptial and separation agreements. She said: ‘It is an accepted fact that an agreement entered into between husband and wife does not oust the jurisdiction of this court. For many years, agreements between spouses were considered void for public policy reasons but this is no longer the case. In fact, over the years, pre-nuptial ‘contracts’ have become increasingly common place and are, I accept, much more likely to be accepted by these courts as governing what should occur between the parties when the prospective marriage comes to an end. That is, of course, subject to the discretion of the court and the application of a test of fairness/manifest unfairness. It may well be that Parliament will provide legislation but, until that occurs, current authority makes it clear that the agreements are not enforceable per se, although they can be persuasive (or definitive) depending upon the precise circumstances that lead to their completion.’
The judge went on to apply the law of undue influence, holding: ‘I am clear that, to overturn the agreement, I have to be satisfied that this wife’s will was overborne by her husband exercising undue pressure or influence over her. I am also clear that if I do not overturn the agreement per se, I still have to consider whether it is fair and should be approved so as to become a court order.’
She overturned the agreement on the ground of undue influence.
Baron J DBE
[2006] EWHC 2900 (Fam), [2007] 1 FLR 1760, [2007] Fam Law 295
Bailii
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedRadmacher v Granatino CA 2-Jul-2009
Husband and wife, neither English, had married in England. Beforehand they had signed a prenuptial agreement in Germany agreeing that neither should claim against the other on divorce. The wife appealed against an order to pay a lump sum to the . .
CitedRadmacher (Formerly Granatino) v Granatino SC 20-Oct-2010
The parties, from Germany and France married and lived at first in England. They had signed a pre-nuptial agreement in Germany which would have been valid in either country of origin. H now appealed against a judgment which bound him to it, . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 11 February 2021; Ref: scu.279027