Laccase-mediated oligomerisation of 4-hydroxybenzoic acid (4-HBA) derivatives and simultaneous in situ surface modification has proven to be a cost-effective, easily applicable and eco-friendly strategy for preventing biofouling of poly(ethersulfone) (PES) water filtration membranes. Modification of the membrane surface has previously been hypothesised to occur through covalent bonding of enzymatically generated phenolic radicals to the polymeric membrane. The current study shows, however, that in situ formation of soluble phenolic oligomers does not result in covalent membrane modification. We studied in situ laccase-mediated oligomerisation of custom-synthesised positively charged and commercially available negatively charged monomeric phenols, and demonstrated that their mode of binding to PES is not covalent. In addition, soluble, non-soluble and on-resin PES model compounds were synthesised and used in the laccase-mediated oligomerisation of 4-HBA. Covalent bond formation between these model compounds and (oligomeric) 4-HBA could not be observed either. Furthermore, extensive washing of PES membranes modified through laccase-mediated oligomerisation of 4-HBA resulted in substantial discolouration of the membrane surface, showing that the layer of oligomerised phenolics could easily be removed. Altogether, it was concluded that laccase-assisted modification of PES membranes resulted from strong physical adsorption of phenolic oligomers and polymers rather than from covalent bonding of those.