A ground-breaking legal ruling has been made which could affect the validity of pre-nuptial agreements in divorce cases.
Susan Crossley, who is worth £18m after three divorces, is pursuing her fourth husband Stuart Crossley for a slice of his £45m fortune.
Mrs Crossley claims a pre-nuptial agreement she signed with the property developer is invalid because he failed to tell her about money held in offshore accounts in Monaco and Andorra.
But three Court of Appeal judges dismissed her appeal over a hearing next month which will evaluate the deal and whether it means her claims against her husband should be thrown out.
Lord Justice Thorpe said: "This is a quite exceptional case on its facts. If ever there is to be a paradigm case in which the courts will look to the pre-nuptial agreement as not simply one of the peripheral factors of the case but a factor of magnetic importance, then it seems to me that this is such a case."
Mr Crossley's legal team said the ruling means it is possible to skip normal procedures when a financial claim in a divorce appears to be hopeless in the face of a pre-nuptial contract.
Nicola Walker, a Family Law Associate at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors commented, "Over recent years case law has increasingly acknowledged the value of pre nuptial agreements albeit they are not binding in England and Wales. This particular case has a set of facts that is very typical of those who wish to enter into pre nuptial agreements. This initial decision is encouraging and the the next stage of these proceedings will be watched carefully by family lawyers ."