E-Commerce

Because of its international nature, chartering might seem an ideal subject for carrying out over the Internet directly between charterer and owner. And yet despite several attempts, no solid Internet-based chartering platform has been successful. Without doubt, many charterers and owners who were first introduced by brokers, continue to work together but dispense with the unfortunate intermediaries. In some ways this is a compliment to the brokers because the principals are obviously satisfied with the calibre of partner they have been introduced to. Direct contact through the Internet is not yet trusted because very often the principals have no way of establishing the other party’s credentials in the way brokers do. Moreover the meat of negotiations varies with every fixture, and what one owner is quite happy to concede, another may resolutely refuse to give way on. Points needing clarification are unlikely to be the same in every case, and so a constant stream of questions back and forth is inevitable. The Internet has been adopted successfully by some liner companies but there the cargo is invariably containerised, the itinerary published and well known in advance and freight rates non-negotiable except for a very few favoured clients. The difference between liner trades and chartering could be likened to the difference in buying an “off the peg” suit or an individually tailored one. Conceivably, there will come a time when Internet chartering will become accepted but, in the opinion of many, only some specialist trades with standard terms and conditions – tankers for example – will prove to be suited to this form of negotiating.