In Rock Advertising Ltd. v. MWB Bus. Exchange Centres Ltd [2018] UK 24 Lord Sumption lists reasons why No Oral Modification clauses are beneficial.

"The first is that it prevents attempts to undermine written agreements by informal means, a possibility which is open to abuse, for example in raising defences to summary judgment." at para 12.

I do not understand the example he gives, how does this undermine a contract?


  • This question may appear quite rough, but it is actually a good one. Don't jump to conclusions re lack of clarity as the references are clear. – Greendrake Apr 9 at 0:34

Say Bob and Rob have a written contract.

Bob becomes unhappy with what Rob does and sues him for breach of contract. Specifically, Bob applies for a summary judgment because, in his view, the breach is so clear so that no hearing/trial is needed.

Rob opposes judging the case that way. This is what "defence to summary judgment" is — Rob wants a hearing. He says that the contract was modified orally, and in the light of that modification there is now no breach as Bob alleges, so we need a hearing so that his right to natural justice is not breached.

The result is that the court has to hold a hearing — instead of deciding the case on the papers. Rob can effectively slow down and tamper with justice by claiming that he and Bob orally agreed to whatever.

If the oral modification was not allowed, Rob would not be able to stop the summary judgment by abusing his right to natural justice.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.