Declaration: I am not a lawyer...
... just an old commercial negotiator, fairly well versed in the 'anglo' commercial law that dominates world trade. With these instincts, my ears pricked up when I heard sundry euro-wallahs stating rather unequivocally that AZ was in breach of its contractual obligations to make "best efforts" on their vaccine delivery obligations to the EC.
Now "best efforts" is not a particularly English-law phrase - I associate it more with the American jurisdictions (Texas, New York) which I meet in the energy business. We tend to go for "endeavours". But here's the point: best endeavours is a very demanding obligation. Roughly speaking, it means, if you can (legally) do it, you must - at whatever cost to yourself. In any sphere where obligations can be genuinely difficult to perform, you'd mostly want to be held only to reasonable endeavours; a middle course being all reasonable endeavours. Then, there would probably be a contractual definition of what's considered reasonable; but in the absence of that, there's no end of case law as to what constitutes reasonableness. It would rarely include willfully breaching properly disclosed pre-existing commitments. So - taking the reports at face value, I'm starting to think AZ might be on thin ice.
Then ... a redacted version of one of the vexed contracts was published. Of course, any redaction makes definitive interpretation impossible for the third-party reader**: but one couldn't but help notice that AZ had only committed to "best reasonable efforts". Ahhhh. And the contract defines "reasonable" in a fairly conventional way. Now it has also to be noted immediately that the contract is subject to Belgian law, about which I know nothing whatever; but still. Suddenly, this amateur is starting to suspect the euro-tossers are protesting too much - a feeling reinforced by their shrill, know-nothing tone as contrasted to the measured, thorough responses of the rather impressive AZ CEO Soriot (French) who seems to be comprehensively the master of his brief.
Still, a bunch of truly amateurish lawyers - German and EC officials (and their apologists on CiF, naturally) were thundering pacta sunt servanda ... yes, yes, we know about that. Germans are very ready with this stuff, Latin and all, until they run into a situation where they don't like the consequences, e.g. as in this first-hand story I've recounted several times here and elsewhere. It's then down to looking for some Civil Code let-out (when they're weaseling in a relatively civilised way); or just plain blustering and bullying, might-is-right. It infects the whole of the EU - the "rules-based" EU as it likes to claim, hahah. Until it suits them otherwise.
And then they wonder why the whole of global commerce is conducted under English / American law, wherever humanly possible ... They've gone a bit quiet for now, anyhow.
** As we now discover: UPDATE - it turns out that in the contract, AZ was granted a sweeping indemnity from liability, the very thing the euro-wallahs claimed they'd been taking pains (and time) to keep out of their vaccine dealings, unlike, errrr, the reckless UK / US buyers ...