There have been cases where a broker has given an assurance that his principals are first class to the other side and the so-called principal has defaulted. There is more than ethics involved here because legal action has successfully been pursued against brokers who have given such an assurance recklessly. One does not even have to be one of the brokers involved to risk action being taken in the case of negligent or recklessly given advice. You will learn about the civil wrong of tort in your law lessons. Sufficient to say that if someone asks for your advice and has right to consider you to be qualified to give that advice, even if the advice is given gratis, if the enquirer acts on your advice and it goes wrong, you may be in trouble. Unless the subject charterer (or owner) is very well known to you to be first class better by far to report on your experience, for example ‘we fixed a ship to them on six months time charter and they paid the hires bang on time every month. If you have no clear experience to report, you should suggest that the enquirer makes his own enquiries through more formal channels. Of course if you have had a bad experience you should pass on the facts just the same but in the same way as you should not give an assurance of excellence if you are not absolutely confident, always remember that there are laws of libel and slander. With parties engaged in serious negotiation, differences will gradually be eliminated and reconciled until either negotiations end in failure with neither side willing to concede on one or more issues or until agreement is reached, albeit with various ‘subjects’ still be lifted. Traditionally, this may be termed having reached agreement on ‘main terms’ or having reached the ‘subject details’ stage, leaving the charterparty still to be negotiated between the parties. Ethically there is no reason why there should now be a serious impediment to reaching a firm fixture.