Rock, a licensee of managed premises, fell into arrears with the licence fee. MWB, the company managing  the premises, locked Rock out of the premises and purported to terminate the agreement. Rock claimed, however, that there had been an oral agreement to reschedule the licence payments so as to clear the arrears, but the original licence agreement said that all variations had to be in writing and signed by the parties. And beside other arguments, MWB claimed that, even if there had been an agreement to resched- ule the payments, there was no consideration to support it.

The Court of Appeal, confirming the Court’s earlier comments in Globe Motors v TRW Lucas Varity, said that the anti-variation clause did not prevent the parties from agreeing a variation orally. The first instance judge had found that they had but was there consideration for that agreement?

Yes, said the Court. Although the House of Lords had ruled that there was no consideration where parties had agreed that a debt could be paid in instalments, in this case MWB gained a practical benefit, in particu- lar because Rock would continue to occupy the property so that it did not stand empty for some time at further loss to MWB. This went beyond the advan- tage of receiving a prompt payment of part of the arrears and a promise to pay the balance and any deferred licence fees over the coming months. This practical benefit amounted to good consideration, making the oral variation agreement enforceable.

MWB Business Exchange Centres Ltd v Rock Advertising Ltd [2016]  EWCA Civ 553