The distinction between contractual requirements for “best” and “reasonable” endeavours is a difficult but important one applicable to many construction contracts. It was recently explored in a case before the High Court.

The claimant argued that, under existing case law, the two phrases mean the same thing, but the judge thought differently, saying:

“...there may be a number of reasonable courses which could be taken in a given situation to achieve a particular aim. An obligation to use reasonable endeavours to achieve the aim probably only requires a party to take one reasonable course, not all of them, whereas an obligation to use best endeavours probably requires a party to take all the reasonable courses he can. In that context, it may well be that an obligation to use all reasonable endeavours equates with using best endeavours....”

A contract that requires a party to use ”reasonable” endeavours may therefore be less stringent than one that requires “all reasonable” or “best” endeavours.

(1) Rhodia International Holdings Limited (2) Rhodia UK Limited v Huntsman International LLC 2007 EWHC 292 (Comm)