When Words Hurt: “Best Endevours” and Legal Interpretation

Service delivery often uses the term “best endevours”, a phrase which may seem innocent enough at first, but in truth can have immense ramifications in the courts. The phrase has no protection “from legal interpretation” according to this article from Colin Beveridge: A recent Appeal Court ruling has potentially serious ramifications, for both clients and service providers alike, because the Court considered that contract exclusion clauses citing ‘best endeavours’ might actually lead to contractual obligations. Of course service delivery is about setting and managing expectations so we need to choose our language, written and oral very carefully; especially when there is a contract in place between stakeholders. Service delivery can take a page from the playbook of politics, Beveridge says. By setting expectations a touch more realistically (saying “we will do whatever we can” instead of “we will do whatever it takes” for example), organisations can prevent a messy situation in litigation.  

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