Duties of a Shipbroker: Shipbrokers are still (wrongly) considered by some principals as parasites. Yet they form an essential part of negotiating and their skills are far more wide-ranging than simply having the right contacts. The majority of shipbrokers should be neither abused nor ignored by the trading and legal professions; of course there are always some rotten apples to be avoided. Conversely, many shipbrokers would be well advised to take a good look at their principals. Shipbrokers is the owners’/charterers’ link with the market, so it is up to the shipbroker to keep their principals (i.e. the owners or charterers) informed about developments in the market, even though the principal may not be planning any market operations at the moment. It is this information that makes it possible for both parties to plan ahead. To assist with this, most of the large shipbrokers maintain a computer database giving the current position and status of all ships in which they specialise. The charterers are therefore able to check on the tonnage that is available before they enter the market. This helps them to ensure that they can get a good rate, since there may be several owners interested in their business. It is the job of the owners’ shipbroker to ensure that all charterers who may have a cargo from an area where his ship could load know the position and the details of his vessel. This entails contacting not only the charterer’s agents but the competitive shipbrokers as well. The function of the charterer’s shipbroker is to ensure that all possible owners are aware of his need for a ship in order to enable him to obtain the best possible rate.