3 July 2024

Miles Preston Missives | High Court Judge Mr Justice Moor warns practitioners about problem PNAs at 1 Hare Court Conference

In January 2024 Miles Preston launched its anti-acrimony initiative to promote the use of “responsible, ethical and innovative'” methods to protect high and ultra-high net worth family assets before, during and after marriage.

A key plank of the initiative is to focus on the use of pre- and post-nuptial agreements (PNAs) – ensuring that parties make “proper provision for financially weaker parties’ reasonable needs”.

At the 1 Hare Court Conference in May 2024, Mr Justice Moor highlighted the high number of cases going through the High Court involving PNAs. He also stressed that it was a problem that many of the PNAs being litigated over did NOT provide sufficient provision for financially weaker parties’ reasonable needs.

Miles Preston Senior Partner, Marcus Dearle, states, “Mr Justice Moor identifies an issue which comes up time and again. Often this is as a direct result of some private client lawyers, understandably but unwisely anxious to please the families that they have been advising for decades, balking at advice from the family lawyer in an UHNW case that the financial provision for the financially weaker party set out in the PNA should be at least £1 million. ‘How much?!’, they exclaim, ‘How could he/she possibly deserve that!’. The answer is that for the provision in the PNA to be considered to be fair under England and Wales and Hong Kong Law, the financially weaker party must have his or her financial needs covered. In some cases, staggeringly, PNAs are drafted leaving the financially weaker party with zero financial provision. And that is worse than having no PNA at all.”

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