In 1974 the late Frank Dethridge, senior partner of Mallesons, determined to end Australia's isolation from the world's maritime lawyers. He convened a meeting of colleagues, who together agreed to form the Maritime Law Association of Australia. At its first conference, in Melbourne in May 1975, 12 delegates attended. Frank was elected first president, but sadly died soon after.
The formation of the Association was noted across the Tasman. Led by Ian Mackay of P & I Services in Wellington and Peter Graham, a Crown Counsel, the New Zealand maritime lawyers resolved also to organise, and to seek a link with the Australians. MLAANZ was the result. The trans-national character of the Association required a special amendment to the constitution of CMI before the Association could become a member.
From its modest beginnings the Association has grown vigorously. It now boasts some 500 members and holds a conference each year which is attended by over 100 delegates. International delegates regularly attend from Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, the USA, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia.
The Association has been a strong supporter of CMI, and hosted the notably successful CMI conference in Sydney in 1994. Ron Salter, a former president, was formerly a member of the Executive Council. Stuart Hetherington, also a former president is a current member of the Executive Council. Other titulary members of CMI from MLAANZ are the Hon. K. Carruthers, , I. Mackay, P.G. Willis, I. Maitland, Judge T. Broadmore, and the Hon. Justice A. Philippides . Titulary membership in the CMI is awarded in recognition of contributions to the work of the CMI and/or services rendered in legal or maritime affairs in furtherance of international uniformity of maritime law or related commercial practice.