Fixture

Securing a ‘fixture’ is only part of a Shipbroker’s responsibility. Following his function as the sole or one of several brokers involved in negotiations leading to a ‘fixture’ the Charterers’ Shipbroker then has the task of: a) drawing up the charterparty faithfully recording all that has been agreed, b) dealing with any subsequently amendments and/or additions to the negotiations, c) handling communications between the parties, and, d) dealing with financial exchanges – e.g. payments of freights, voyage balances and hires. Although it is normal practice for a Charterer’s Shipbroker actually to draw up charterparties, the Shipowner’s broker must check the draft version of that document, and attend to the other activities details above on behalf of his own principal. Consequently, most medium-sized and large shipbroking companies maintain a ‘post-fixture’ department, the duties of which are to handle efficiently the operations of a concluded fixture, leaving the ‘front-line broker to concentrate on the fixing of further business. With smaller companies, or individuals, however, the broker will handle the entire operation from original negotiations through to the final financial transaction. A typical deep-sea dry cargo fixture will involve at least two Shipbrokers – one representing the Shipowner, the other the Charterer – sometimes there will be more brokers in the ‘chain’. Whereas it is comparatively unusual for just one Shipbroker to be employed on a deep-sea dry-cargo fixture, for short-sea and some specialised trades occasionally only one Shipbroker will be engaged between two principals. Thus more than ever, if acting as a sold Shipbroker, that broker must act in a scrupulously professional manner, using all his endeavours to promote harmony in the negotiations and in post-fixture activities.