At AFSA's opening in 1996 its mandate was stated in this way -
"Any objective assessment of our complex industrialized and commercial society indicates that even where an effective, efficient and professional judicial system is in place, there is yet a need at every level of society for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
Business has the right to know that there are legitimate mechanisms in place through which disputes may be resolved effectively, efficiently, speedily and in the most economical way possible. AFSA will fill this void and I wish it every success."
- Dullah Omar, then South Africa’s first Minister of Justice in the new democratic dispensation, speaking at the AFSA launch.