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Exploring the significance of No Oral Modification (NOM) Clauses

View profile for Alex Forster
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In the complex world of construction and engineering, where projects are often intricate and subject to evolving circumstances, the importance of well-drafted contracts cannot be overstated. One crucial aspect of these contracts is the inclusion of no oral modification (“NOM”) clauses, which play a vital role in ensuring the clarity, stability and enforceability of agreements. In this blog, we delve into the significance of NOM clauses in construction and engineering contracts.

Understanding NOM Clauses

NOM clauses are contractual provisions that require any amendments, modifications or waivers of the contract's terms to be in writing and signed by the parties involved. These clauses serve as safeguards against informal, undocumented changes that could lead to confusion, disputes or unintended consequences.

Promoting Clarity and Certainty

One of the primary advantages of NOM clauses is their ability to maintain the clarity and certainty of contractual terms. Construction and engineering projects involve numerous stakeholders, intricate details and specific timelines. When changes are made orally or informally, it becomes challenging to determine the exact terms of the amended agreement, potentially resulting in misunderstandings and disagreements.

Preventing Ambiguity and Disputes

Ambiguities in construction contracts can lead to lengthy legal battles and project delays. NOM clauses contribute significantly to reducing ambiguity by requiring all amendments to be documented in writing. Parties can refer to these written modifications whenever uncertainties arise, mitigating the risk of disputes arising from differing recollections or interpretations.

Upholding the Principle of Party Autonomy

The principle of party autonomy is a cornerstone of contract law, allowing parties to freely negotiate and set the terms of their agreements. NOM clauses respect this principle by emphasising the significance of formal, deliberate changes to the contract. This ensures that parties are fully aware of the alterations being made and can make informed decisions about their obligations.

Insights from UK Case Law

The UK legal landscape has provided valuable insights into the practical implications of NOM clauses in construction and engineering contracts. In the case of Rock Advertising Ltd v MWB Business Exchange Centres Ltd [2018] UKSC 24, the UK Supreme Court held that a NOM clause is valid and enforceable, emphasising the importance of honouring the terms agreed upon in the written contract. This decision reaffirmed the significance of NOM clauses in maintaining the integrity of contractual agreements and provided clarity on their enforceability in English law. It underscored that parties must adhere to the contract's formal requirements, ensuring that any modifications are properly documented and endorsed.


In the realm of construction and engineering, where precision, coordination and adherence to schedules are paramount, NOM clauses play a crucial role in upholding the integrity of contractual agreements. By promoting clarity, preventing disputes and respecting party autonomy, these clauses provide a solid foundation for successful project execution. As the industry continues to evolve, the inclusion of well-drafted NOM clauses remains an essential practice for all parties involved in construction and engineering contracts in the UK and beyond.