Role Of the Shipbroker Under Agency Law

Shiproker or ship agent must always only work strictly within the specified authority given by the principal, who may have very good financial reasons for not wanting to go beyond those limits; or the principal may simply want to manipulate the market, either for this fixture or for the next few fixtures. Shipbroker may be able to act beyond the principal’s authority but only if there is already a very well-established relationship between principal and broker, who could then be acting under the rules of Agency of Necessity. Shipbroker (who may also be known as an owners’ or a charterer’s ‘agent’) may work so closely with the principal that he/she will be permitted to sign the contract (COA or C/P) on behalf of that principal. However, great care must be exercised here, otherwise the broker is in danger of committing himself/herself and thereby becoming a principal to the contract. Therefore a careful broker will always sign ‘for and on behalf of [name of principal owner or charterer] as agent only’ and ideally will add ‘by written authority’.