The Effect of “Best Endeavours” Clauses in the Context of Delays to New-build Projects

The Effect of “Best Endeavours” Clauses in the Context of Delays to New-build Projects

As our UK solicitors have discussed in a recent post, the surge in sales and construction of new-build properties sold off-the-plan has resulted in an oversupply in the London market. Developers are scaling down projects and there is talk of a price correction. An additional side-effect could be that construction projects already commenced could be delayed or even grind to a halt.

Previously we looked at the operation of ‘reasonable endeavours’ clauses in contracts for the construction of new-build homes and what protection they afford to purchasers facing significant delays with construction. In this article we look at the legal effect of the “best endeavours” clause in the context of delay.

What is a “best endeavours” obligation?

A best endeavours obligation means what is says; it does not mean “second-best endeavours” but will oblige a contracting party to take all steps that he reasonably can to achieve the goal in question.

That said, a “best endeavours” clause still has its limitations, in that it may not oblige a party to do absolutely everything possible to achieve the relevant outcome. But in the context of contracts for the sale and construction of new-build properties, an obligation on the developer to use its best endeavours to physically complete by a stipulated date will provide purchasers with more scope to argue that a breach of contract has taken place.

So, in the context of a new-build contract that expressly requires the developer to use its best endeavours clauses to complete the property by a given date, purchasers seeking to allege breach of contract for failure to complete on time will need to say what things the developer should have done to achieve timely completion but in fact failed to do. For example, if the delay in construction is caused by the developer’s own financial constraints, it may be open for purchasers to argue that the developer ought to have taken whatever low-risk and reasonable steps were available to obtain further funding.


The court will look at a number of factors when considering whether a builder is in breach of a “best endeavours” clause due late physical completion. Each case must be assessed on its own merits. Advising purchasers in this situation is a field of expertise for South Bank Legal and we have a track record of success. You can contact us for a confidential discussion about any of the content you see on this website.