27 Austl. & N.Z. Mar. L.J. 1 (2013)

handle is hein.journals/ausnewma27 and id is 1 raw text is: The 39th Annual MLAANZ Conference
BRISBANE
13 September 2012
Frank Stuart Dethridge Memorial Address
AMBLING THROUGH HALF A CENTURY OF MARITIME PRACTICE
IN AUSTRALIA
Ron Salter*
To say that I was surprised when first approached to deliver this year's Dethridge Address is something of an
understatement. Even to say that I felt honoured does not adequately express my feelings. To follow in the
footsteps of the eminent persons who have previously delivered this address is a humbling experience indeed.
While my memory is far from perfect, I certainly recall that in late 1974 or early 1975, I read with some interest
in the (Victorian) Law Institute Journal of the formation of the Maritime Law Association of Australia. Indeed,
as someone actively practising in the jurisdiction, I recall being slightly put out that my first knowledge of the
existence of the Association emerged from the media. Nevertheless, overcoming my disappointment, I applied
to join, and in May 1975 I attended the first meeting/conference of about a dozen members held in the Palm
Lake Motor Inn in Melbourne, a venue whose only connection with maritime law was the fact that it overlooked
Albert Park Lake! The meeting was presided over by Frank Dethridge, the Association's first president.
The first Dethridge memorial address, established after the untimely death of Frank Dethridge in 1976, was
given in 1977 by the Honourable Sir Ninian Stephen, then a Justice of the High Court. I do not think that I can
give a better description of the late Frank Dethridge than did Sir Ninian at the conclusion of his address, as
quoted by His Honour Judge Tom Broadmore when delivering his Dethridge address in 2009:
He was a man learned in the law and with a great interest in and much experience of shipping law. Those
members of the Victorian Bar fortunate enough to be briefed by him in shipping matters were the wiser for
his counsel. His wisdom, kindness and moderation will long be remembered in the profession. He had
developed to an exquisite degree that high art of the instructing solicitor, how to teach counsel what he
does not know but needs to learn for the case in hand, while conveying the impression all the while that it
is he, the instructing solicitor, who is collecting pearls of wisdom as they fall from counsel's lips.
In contemplating a subject for this year's address, I determined without too much difficulty that I was not
sufficiently erudite to put myself in a position where my address might be compared in any way to previous
addresses of various High Court, Federal Court, and State Supreme Court Chief Justices, or such well-regarded
international jurists as Sir Michael Mustill (as he then was). I therefore concluded that I should indulge myself
to some extent by taking you on a journey through my almost 50 years in the field of maritime law. While I
imagine that the older members here today will recall with some affection 'the good old days', I would like to
think that for the generations of practitioners who have grown up in the last few decades, at least some of what I
have to say will be both new and interesting.
As an articled clerk, a young lawyer, and subsequently a partner in the Melbourne firm of Phillips, Fox &
Masel, I was privileged to work under the watchful eye of the late Alec Masel, who was senior partner for
almost half a century. AM, as he was fondly called, maintained quality control over the work of the firm by
reading every morning all letters which had been sent out the previous day, and summoning to his office for a
Consultant, DLA Piper, Melbourne.
(2013) 27 A&NZ Mar LJ

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