Should the law be clearer on pre-nuptial agreements?

Lady Hale is the first woman Justice of the Supreme Court

The most senior woman judge in the country will speak about pre-nuptial agreements and the recent high-profile divorce case of Radmacher v Granatino at a lecture at the University of Liverpool.

Lady Hale, the first woman Justice of the Supreme Court, became the UK’s first woman Law Lord in January 2004, after a varied career as an academic lawyer, law reformer, and judge.

She was one of the judges involved in the Supreme Court’s recent case of Radmacher v Granatino, which involved a German heiress and a French investment banker. The couple signed a pre-nuptial agreement in Germany which gave neither any claim upon the other in the event of divorce. After marrying and setting up home in England, they subsequently divorced. The case reached the UK’s top court after the husband – who had quit his lucrative career for academia – challenged the original agreement and sought a settlement for himself as well as for the couple’s two children.

Lady Hale strongly argued in her judgment that, while such an agreement should be taken into account by the divorce court and given effect if it was fair in the circumstances, as they had turned out, it is not the same to suggest such agreements are binding.

Professor Fiona Beveridge, Head of the School of Law and Social Justice at the University of Liverpool, said: “We’re delighted that Lady Hale will speak on such an important and topical issue. The lecture will consider whether it is time for the law to be clearer on pre-nuptial agreements – and what the consequences for couples and society might be in the future. It will also consider whether it is right that people should be able to contract out of the fundamental principle of equality in marriage which is the basis of our current law.”

Lady Hale will deliver the Liverpool Law School’s annual lecture on Thursday, 4 November. The event will take place at 6pm in Lecture Theatre 2 at the University’s Sherrington Buildings, Ashton Street, Liverpool. Members of the public are welcome – anyone wishing to attend should contact Kayte Kelley on 0151 794 2815 or e-mail

Notes to editors:

1. The Right Hon the Baroness Hale of Richmond
After graduating from Cambridge in 1966, she taught law at Manchester University from 1966 to 1984, also qualifying as a barrister and practising for a while at the Manchester Bar. She specialised in Family and Social Welfare law, was founding editor of the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, and authored a pioneering case book on ‘The Family, Law and Society’.
In 1984 she was the first woman to be appointed to the Law Commission, a statutory body which promotes the reform of the law. Important legislation resulting from the work of her team at the Commission includes the Children Act 1989, the Family Law Act 1996, and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. She also began sitting as an assistant recorder.
In 1994 she became a High Court judge, the first to have made her career as an academic and public servant rather than a practising barrister. In 1999 she was the second woman to be promoted to the Court of Appeal, before becoming the first woman Law Lord.

2. Law at the University of Liverpool
Law has been taught at the University of Liverpool for over a century. The School has research strengths in Children’s Rights, European Law, Medical Law and Ethics, Charity Law and Policy and International Business Law.
Previous annual lectures at the Liverpool Law School have been given by  The Rt Hon Elish Angiolini QC, WS, Lord Advocate of Scotland; The Rt. Hon the Lord Scott of Foscote, judge in the House of Lords; and His Honour Judge David Fletcher of the Community Justice Centre, North Liverpool.

3. University of Liverpool
The University of Liverpool is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive institutions in the UK. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations valued at more than £98 million annually.

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