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Key decisions

  • Thorne & Kennedy [2017] HCA 49
  • Neubert (Deceased) & Neubert and Anor (No. 2) [2017] FamCA 829

Financial agreements

Fiancée (and as wife) wins appeal to the High Court

In Thorne & Kennedy [2017] HCA 49 (8 November 2017) the High Court allowed with costs Ms Thorne’s appeal against a decision of the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia. In a joint judgment, Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane and Edelman JJ (Nettle and Gordon JJ giving separate reasons) said (at [1]-[2]):

‘This appeal concerns … a pre-nuptial agreement and a post-nuptial agreement which replaced it … between a wealthy property developer … and his fiancée … The parties met online on a website for potential brides and they were soon engaged. In the words of the primary judge, Ms Thorne came to Australia leaving behind “her life and minimal possessions … If the relationship ended, she would have nothing. No job, no visa, no home, no place, no community” … The pre-nuptial agreement was signed, at the insistence of Mr Kennedy, very shortly before the wedding … [where] Ms Thorne was given emphatic independent legal advice that the agreement was “entirely inappropriate” and that Ms Thorne should not sign it.

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