Shipbrokers

Some Shipbrokers are specifically hired as employees by Shipowners or by Charterers to ‘work’ their tonnage or cargoes. Most, though, are separate individuals or corporations acting for principals in an ‘exclusive’ or ‘semi-exclusive’ capacity or fixing as an opportunity presents itself, as ‘competitive’ brokers. The term ‘Shipbroker’ is, however, wide-ranging. Other functions than that of a dry-cargo Shipbroker abound. Activities, for example, covering Port Agency work; the Sale and Purchase or ships, the employment of specialist vessels such as tankers of ‘off-shore’ craft; Liner Agency and Ship Management. All are roles in which Shipbrokers will be found. A Shipbroker specialising in acting for merchants seeking ships to carry cargoes may be known as a ‘chartering broker’ or as a ‘chartering agent’ and, as noted above, such a broker may be either the employee of the merchants, dealing solely with that merchant’s business, or the broker may be retained on an exclusive basis – i.e. the merchant’s business is his or his company’s to handle exclusively. This exclusivity may be limited to a chartering centre – e.g. ‘exclusive in London’ – or it may be worldwide. Certain merchants prefer to employ a chain of ‘semi-exclusive’ brokers to cover several shipping centres, perhaps feeling that this will enable a more thorough coverage of the ‘market’ for suitable ships, and the brokers concerned may possibly describe themselves as ‘direct brokers’ for the merchants concerned. A Shipbroker in one centre may have ‘correspondent brokers’ that will be used co-operatively to seek suitable tonnage or cargoes in another centre. Most brokers will act ‘competitively’ if they find a suitable ‘non-exclusive’ ship for a ‘non-exclusive’ cargo during their forays around the international marketplace, and a few merchants will not employ brokers in an exclusive role but prefer to treat all brokers as competitors with one another, releasing details of their requirements on to the freight market as widely as possible and negotiating thereafter with the Owners of any suitable ship that is proposed to them through whichever broking channel the Owner selects.