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Does Sir Martin Sorrell have a pre-nup this time?

Lady Cristiana Falcone Sorrell, the wife of advertising tycoon Sir Martin Sorrell has announced she is seeking a divorce from her husband.

Lady Falcone Sorrell and Sir Martin, who live in London, have been married since 2008 and have a young daughter.

Sir Martin founded and built the advertising giant WPP and, according to The Sunday Times Rich List, was worth £495 million in 2017. His first divorce is thought to have been one of the UK’s largest divorce settlements at the time– with his first wife Sandra Finestone receiving a reported £30 million of the family’s then estimated £75 million fortune.

Emily Brand, partner at private client law firm at Boodle Hatfield, said that the biggest financial question in the divorce will be whether Sir Martin and his wife have a pre-nup.

His divorce from his first wife set legal precedent in that, although there was no pre-nup, the judge decided that Sir Martin had made a “special contribution” to the family’s wealth. As a consequence, this allowed him to keep more than 50 percent of the marital assets, splitting them 60/40 in his favour.

As Sir Martin’s marriage to Lady Falcone Sorrell took place in 2008 - before the 2010 landmark judgment in Radmacher v Granatino which popularised pre-nups - there is a chance he and Lady Falcone Sorrell do not have a pre-nup.

Before the 2010 judgment, many high earners were told by their lawyers that pre-nups had no standing in the UK and were not worth using. Sir Paul McCartney, notably, did not put in place a pre-nup when he married Heather Mills.

If Sir Martin does have a pre-nup, it will help protect the wealth that he built up before the marriage by excluding it from any subsequent divorce settlement.

There is also a chance that Sir Martin will have a post-nup in place to protect his new company S4 from being included in the marital assets pot. This will potentially prevent his company from being split in a divorce settlement.

Any entrepreneur who sets up a new company should consider whether they want to cover off the value they create in a new business venture through a post-nup,” Ms Brand emphasised. His first divorce forced Sir Martin to sell £12 million of WPP shares to fund his ex-wife’s £30 million settlement.

This article first appeared in eprivateclient on 28 February 2020. Find out more about our Family services.

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