Court overturns unfair pre-nup involving Avon cosmetics heiress

Pre-nups are becoming increasingly popular and although they are not legally binding automatically, they are now usually upheld by the courts if they are fair to both sides.

If they are not fair, it’s possible that they will be overturned, as happened recently in the High Court.

The case involved Morgan McConnell, who is an heiress of the Avon cosmetics business and the beneficiary of trusts worth £49 million. She married Anil Ipekci in 2005. At that time, Mr Ipekci had just been made bankrupt and had no significant assets of his own. He worked as a hotel concierge.

The couple signed a pre-nup agreement stating that in the event of a divorce, Mr Ipekci would only receive a half share in any increase in the value of three properties belonging to Ms McConnell.

However, the properties did not increase in value so under the pre-nup, Mr Ipekci would receive nothing.

Giving judgment in the case, Mr Justice Mostyn said it would be “wholly unfair” to hold Mr Ipekci to the pre-nup under these circumstances. He said: “The vast amount of money generated by the Avon business for the McConnell family means that, along with other relatives, she is the beneficiary of trusts in the US with an overall value of at least $65 million.”

He awarded Mr Ipekci a settlement of £1.3 million. He said the size of the award was based on Mr Ipekci’s needs. This took into account the fact that the couple had lived in London while they were married and enjoyed a “reasonably high standard” of living.

Mr Ipekci had worked throughout the marriage and moved to “very modest rented accommodation” after the couple separated.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.

Case Details

Ipekci and McConnell
High Court
Mr Justice Mostyn
April 2019

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