It was founded by Dr Aleka Mandaraka-Sheppard in 1994 at the law faculty of University College London (UCL), when she was the Director of the shipping law courses, to bridge the gap between the various sectors of the shipping industry, the judiciary, lawyers, academic institutions, maritime and governmental organisations, for the purpose of exchanging knowledge in the practice of maritime law and commerce.

It was inaugurated at the House of Lords on 30 April 1997 and since then it has achieved many of its objectives through its highly acclaimed events.

Extract from inauguration speech of the Founding Director:

“The aim of the centre is to provide a neutral forum for cross-fertilisation of ideas between those who serve the industry and to further maritime education.

The broader vision of the centre is to enhance quality in shipping services. Quality in whatever we do cannot be achieved without education, training, experience and reflection of past experiences. These are the true elements that contribute to delivering a strong industry in these changing times. The Centre aims to assist the industry in achieving these objectives.

Co-ordinated action in education, training and exchange of information is needed as it will encourage a healthy competition and enhance the quality of the services provided.

All of us have a common purpose: to maintain and reinforce a safety culture and high-quality in shipping services. For this purpose, our efforts must be joined and the Centre will provide the focus.

As London has led in the developement of international shipping by being the major provider of knowledge and expertise at home and abroad, the City of London is and must remain the heart of international shipping in all aspects, legal, financial and commercial. The Centre will assist in promoting London… 

Extract from the speech of the Founding President, Lord Mustill

“The Law and practice of shipping law have always been closely entwined. There can surely be no other branch of commerce where the practical people know, and need to know, so much of the law; and where professionals know, and need to know, so much of the practice. The skills and qualifications of those who occupy the broad spectrum between the judge and the master mariner merge almost imperceptibly…

This new Centre will, we hope, become a forum in the original, as well as the contemporary sense, a meeting place to all in the industry, to all who serve the industry, for free exchange, informal as well as structures, of interests and ideas.