Supreme Court: anti-oral variation clauses and the rule in Foakes v Beer


MWB Business Exchange Centres Ltd v Rock Advertising Ltd [2016] 3 WLR 1519, Times, July 22, 2016

The Supreme Court has now granted MWB Business Exchange Centres Ltd permission to appeal in this widely reported case, which has already been the subject of much academic commentary.

The Appeal will see the Supreme Court consider whether parties can orally vary a written contract whose terms preclude such variations as found by the Court of Appeal, which adopted certain obiter dicta from the earlier case of Globe Motors v TRW Lucas [2016] EWCA Civ 396. It will also see the Court finally decide whether a promise to pay an existing debt can amount to “practical consideration” pursuant to the decision in Williams v Roffey [1991] 1 Q.B. 1 notwithstanding the long standing rule in Foakes v Beer.

Clifford Darton and Sally Blackmore act for MWB instructed by Mr Brian Donnan and Samantha Dawkins of Edward Harte LLP. Clifford Darton previously appeared for the Company in the Court of Appeal. George Woodhead obtained a stay of the re-trial directed by the Court of Appeal pending the determination of the Appeal.