The solution to this potential problem would seem to be to elevate the ‘subject details’ stage from a legally insignificant process to an essential part of a contract. Negotiating on a charterparty at an early stage so there is no distinction between the ‘main terms’ and charterparty details is one method. However, if parties to a negotiation under American Law prefer not to be committed to what may legally be interpreted as ‘fixture’ before all details, major and minor, have been agreed, and all subjects lifted, they should make this patently clear by the use of appropriate wording. An example of such wording would be “subject to Owner’s/Charterer’s full approval of the proforma charterparty dated…. with logical amendments thereto”. It may be tempting in the heat of negotiations to use a short, easy phrase like “subject details” but, with American Law as it presently stands, this is not sufficient, and it is safer to get into the habit of being more explicit. So much of the practical life of a broker revolves around the various requirements of charterparties that it is absolutely essential you understand them as fully as possible. No one expects every broker to understand every charterparty in detail, but brokers should be aware of the basic structure of voyage and timecharter forms, and should also be capable of nominating a suitable charterparty for any particular commodity or trade. Whilst in shipping almost anything is possible (provided it is legal) there are usually specific charterparties which relate to particular trades, and a shipbroker should recommend and use these if possible, since most will have stood the test of time both in practical everyday usage and, as important, in legal dispute.