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The British Maritime Law Association was founded in 1908. Its purpose is and always has been to promote the study and the advancement of British maritime and mercantile law: to promote and consider with foreign and other maritime law associations proposals for the unification of maritime and mercantile law in the practice of different nations: to afford opportunities for members to discuss matters of national and international maritime law: to collect and circulate amongst its members information regarding maritime and mercantile law and to establish a collection of publications and documents of interest to members. (The text of the constitution will be found hereafter.)

Membership consists of representatives from the following groups: shipowners, shippers, merchants, manufactures, insurers, insurance brokers, tug owners, shipbuilders, port and harbour authorities, bankers, classifications societies or other societies or bodies interested in the objects of the Association. The Association also has a number of individual members who may be employees of corporate or institute members or barristers or others with out a corporate identity.

The Association has two principal functions. Firstly it acts as an adviser to U.K. Government bodies responsible for maritime legislation or regulation and secondly, it co-operates with its international parent body, the CMI, in research and drafting of international instruments for the harmonisation of maritime and mercantile law.

The cost of membership, which entitles members to receive copies of all the BMLA and CMI publications, the right to attend the annual lecture and dinner and other events organised by the Association and to participate in the work of the Association’s sub-committees, is currently as follows:- Firms of solicitors and similar organisations pay a subscription of either £350, £700 or £950, depending on the size of its marine practice and individual membership is currently £30 per person. The membership fee for institutional members is £1,500 and for academic establishments £60.