The Adriatic Institute was founded on May 28 1945, with the task of conducting the scientific research of the problems of the Adriatic coast from its geographical, historical, ethnographic, as well as transport, economical and urban aspects. The Institute's initial activities, which were primarily focused on the problems of delimitation between the former SFRY and Italy at the 1947 Paris Peace Conference, resulted in numerous scientific studies, extensive documentation and a number of the Institute's publications of that time.

At the end of 1948, the Adriatic Institute became a scientific research unit of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts, and its headquarters moved from Sušak to Zagreb. In addition to the existing tasks, the Institute was entrusted with issues concerning maritime law and economics, and fishing law and economics.

After having gathered scientists and experts, the Institute commenced its work on maritime legislation. Its associates have actively participated in the adoption of the Law Concerning Contracts for the Employment of Sea-going Ships, 1959; Law on the Registration of Sea-going Ships and Boats, 1965; Law on Salvage at Sea and Internal Waterways, 1966; Law on Raising of Sunken Objects, 1966; and Law on Compensation of Damage Arising from the Collision of Ships, 1966.

From its very beginnings, the Adriatic Institute had a considerable publishing activity. Apart from relevant editions regarding the problems of the Adriatic, and several monographs in French and Croatian, the scientific journal Comparative Maritime Law and Commerce was initiated in 1958. The object of this quarterly publication was to provide help in practical problems and also present research in maritime law and the law of international trade.

Over the next two decades, numerous valuable books have been published, including four volumes in the series Adriatic Monographs, and seven volumes in the series Contributions to the Studies of Fishing Law and Economics. From 1968 and over the next nine years, the activities of the Institute were mostly directed toward the preparation of the extensive Law on Maritime and Inland Navigation.

The Institute took part in the work on the international unification of maritime law and the codification of the law of the sea, especially by writing preparatory texts for the members of our delegations at international conferences. The associates of the Institute contributed in drafting and adopting a number of international legal instruments, among which the following conventions: on Arrest of Sea-going Ships, 1952; on Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction in Matters of Collision, 1952; on Limitation of the Liability of Owners of Sea-going Ships, 1957; four Geneva Conventions on the Law of the Sea, 1958; on the Liability of Operators of Nuclear Ships, 1962; on Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Damage, 1969; on the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 1974; on International Multimodal Transport of Goods, 1980; on the Law of the Sea and Conditions of Registration of Ships, 1986.

In accordance with the change of the focus of scientific research, the Institute was in 1974 named The Institute of Maritime Law, History and Economics. Since February 28 1992, it has operated under the name The Adriatic Institute and dealt with the scientific research of maritime and transport law, and the law of the sea.

Over the past decades, the members of the Institute participated in the work of several international organizations and other international bodies: the International Maritime Organization (IMO); the United Nations Conference on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL); the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); and the International Maritime Committee (CMI). They contributed greatly to the preparation of the Maritime Encyclopedia; the Legal Encyclopedia; and the Maritime Dictionary. The translation of the Maritime and Inland Navigation Law into English also falls under the Institute’s activities.

After the Republic of Croatia had gained its independence, the accession to international instruments in the field of shipping, transport and the law of the sea was considered at the Adriatic Institute. The employees of the Institute took part in the creation of the Draft Maritime Act of the Republic of Croatia in 1994; its novella in 2004; as well as in all of its subsequent changes and supplements. In addition to the issues on the international unification of maritime law and the international legal protection of the sea from pollution, the focus of its scientists in the recent years is the implementation of maritime law of the European Union and problems of delimitation between states with opposite or adjacent coasts.

From the seven decades of continuous productive work of the Adriatic Institute, particularly worth mentioning are 57 years of uninterrupted publishing of its scientific journal. Since 1992, it has been entitled Poredbeno pomorsko pravo = Comparative Maritime Law, and it is the only Croatian periodical exclusively dedicated to the issues of maritime law and the law of the sea.

Since the establishment of the Institute, remarkable contributions were made by prominent Academy members: Vladislav Brajkovic, encyclopaedist; Juraj Andrassy; Natko Katičić; Vladimir Ibler; and Dragovan Šepić; as well as Professor Branko Jakaša; Branko Kojić, Ph.D., senior research scientist; Emilio Pallua, PhD and Vladimir-Đuro Degan, Professor Emeritus. Their dedication and enthusiasm have significantly contributed to the rich scientific and publishing activity, as well as to the reputation of the Adriatic Institute.