the Irish for rights

Pre-nuptial agreements: time for clarity?

The Minister for Justice has announced the membership of Pre-nuptial Study Group, whose terms of reference will be

to study and report on the operation of the law since the introduction of divorce in 1996 with respect to pre-nuptial agreements taking into account constitutional requirements.

Quite frankly, the law in this area is seriously in need of reform. It has always seemed to me that McMahon v McMahon [1913] 1 IR 428 precluded the enforceability of pre-nuptial agreements as a matter of Irish law, and despite the amendement of the Constitution to provide for the introduction of divorce, with the consequent weakening of the policy basis upon which McMahon was constructed, Ennis v Butterly [1996] IEHC 51; [1996] 1 IR 426; [1997] 1 ILRM 28 seemed to me to continue the McMahon view of the law.

Responding to a motion put down by Fine Gael Senator Fergal Browne calling for the matter to be referred to the Law Reform Commission, the Minister told the Seanad (Senate) earlier this year (Seanad Report | Irish Times | Irish Independent) that the removal of the constitutional prohibition on divorce in Ireland has weakened the public policy against pre-nuptial agreements. Today’s announcement of the Study Group fulfils a promise he made that day. Of course, as David Hegarty SC points out, such agreements are not without some value even as the law stands (Irish Times | amen). But as pre-nuptial agreements become more and more popular, doubts nevertheless persist (Irish Independent | Irish Times | Law Society Gazette (Geoffrey Shannon)), and for some (like John Waters in the Irish Times), resolving those doubts cannot come quickly enough.

Finally, on a professional level, I am pleased that the Group will have significant academic input, as its membership includes Louise Crowley (UCC), who has written widely about family law (including ‘Pre-Nuptial Agreements – Have they any place in Irish law?’ [2001] 4 I.J.F.L. 3) and Ross Aylward BL, whose recent book Pre-Nuptial Agreements (RoundHall Thomson, Dublin, 2006) is based on his TCD thesis.

Leave a Reply



Me in a hatHi there! Thanks for dropping by. I'm Eoin O'Dell, and this is my blog: Cearta.ie - the Irish for rights.

"Cearta" really is the Irish word for rights, so the title provides a good sense of the scope of this blog.

In general, I write here about private law, free speech, and cyber law; and, in particular, I write about Irish law and education policy.

Academic links


  • RSS Feed
  • RSS Feed
  • Subscribe via Email
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Archives by month

Categories by topic

My recent tweets

Blogroll (or, really, a non-blogroll)

What I'd like for here is a simple widget that takes the list of feeds from my existing RSS reader and displays it here as a blogroll. Nothing fancy. I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

I had built a blogroll here on my Google Reader RSS subscriptions. Google Reader produced a line of html for each RSS subscription category, each of which I pasted here. So I had a list of my subscriptions as my blogroll, organised by category, which updated whenever I edited Google Reader. Easy peasy. However, with the sad and unnecessary demise of that product, so also went this blogroll. Please take a moment to mourn Google Reader. If there's an RSS reader which provides a line of html for the list of subscriptions, or for each RSS subscription category as Google Reader did, I'd happily use that. So, as I've already begged, I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

Meanwhile, please bear with me until I find a new RSS+Blogroll solution




Creative Commons License

This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. I am happy for you to reuse and adapt my content, provided that you attribute it to me, and do not use it commercially. Thanks. Eoin

Credit where it’s due

The image in the banner above is a detail from a photograph of the front of Trinity College Dublin night taken by Melanie May.

Others whose technical advice and help have proven invaluable in keeping this show on the road include Dermot Frost, Karlin Lillington, Daithí Mac Síthigh, and Antoin Ó Lachtnáin.

Thanks to Blacknight for hosting.