To maintain flexibility, charterers often request that shipbrokers fix vessels to discharge at a specified number of ports within a defined range. But it’s important that the broker clearly understands the definition of that range and which ports it includes.
A recent claim handled by the International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) involved a fixture identifying a discharge in a north China range designated as “1-2 port(s) Quingdao-Dongying”. This fixture was completed and, later, the same broker was asked by the same charterer to place a further cargo – this time destined for Jinzhou. The broker approached the same shipowner and agreed terms on the basis of the original fixture. An approaching holiday encouraged the broker to fix quickly, which he did but without checking if Jinzhou was within the designated range – it wasn’t.
When voyage orders were passed, the vessel owners were not happy to proceed to Jinzhou as it was outside the range and located in a potential ice zone. The vessel was not ice classed.
After discussion, the shipowner agreed to discharge at Jinzhou for an additional $25,000 and full protection against any issue or damage involving ice. With ITIC’s agreement, the shipbroker was able to indemnify the charterer.
Whilst intermediaries face many pressures, it is important for agreements to be checked and re-checked, even when haste is deemed necessary.