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explores a shared Dispute Resolution Mechanism for BRICS

The second edition of Perspectives is now available and explores Designing a Dispute Resolution Mechanism for BRICS. Various contributors identify and examine the challenges in designing a shared dispute resolution mechanism for BRICS member states, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. In 2019 AFSA was nominated the BRICS Centre for South Africa and the BRICS project is the second of the key international projects to which AFSA is committed and says AFSA Chairman, Michael Kuper, “will reflect the same inclusive design as its CAJAC progenitor”.

While the second edition of Perspectives analyses the challenges in designing a shared dispute resolution system for BRICS, the first edition of Perspectives dealt with the New York Convention - 60 years later, an assessment by a panel of AFSA graduates speaking from different vantage points. The Perspectives publications and the topics covered serve as a research tool and an on-going record of the development of arbitration in Southern Africa and Africa.

Both publications can be downloaded from the website.

AFSA SADC Launches Panel of Arbitrators

The AFSA SADC launch on Friday 11 December, was attended by over 200 delegates from across SADC, the African continent and beyond. The keynote speaker was the Honourable Likando Kalaluka, Attorney General of the Republic of Zambia. He described the launch as a long overdue initiative. He was joined by a high- level panel constituted of the Minister of Justice of Namibia Hon. Yvonne Dausab, and the Attorney General of Malawi, Dr. Chikosa Chilungwe. They were joined by representatives of the Minister of Justice from Zimbabwe, Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi and the Minister of Justice South Africa in an unprecedented show of support from SADC member states.

Together they congratulated the AFSA SADC Division for establishing a standardized panel and project to establish, within SADC under the leadership of the SADC Law Societies, a shared efficient mechanism to resolve commercial and investment disputes so that disputes within SADC are resolved in SADC in accordance with the high standards of a regional dispute resolution culture. This, they reiterated will go a long way in facilitating investor confidence and contributing to development of the SADC region.

Some of the highlighted key objectives of the initiative include, but are not limited to, the training and popularization within the SADC legal communities, a shared set of rules for the conduct of arbitrations and mediations so that a common method for resolving disputes is created.

This also involves giving the SADC countries a united voice and presence on the international arbitration stage, both generally and also as an active participant in the African Silk Road.

Apart from the AFSA founding Members and the 15 SADC Bar Associations under SADCLA, other key stakeholders that joined the webinar with messages of solidarity were;

  • The International Federation of Women Lawyers
  • The Beijing International Arbitration Centre
  • The Commonwealth Lawyers Association represented by its President Brian Speers
  • The Pan African Lawyers Union
  • The East African Law Society
  • The European Lawyers Union
  • The Council of the Inns of Court.



The Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa (“AFSA”) is a non-profit corporation providing comprehensive alternative dispute resolution services, both domestic and international; maintaining panels of arbitrators, adjudicators and mediators and offering training in arbitration and mediation skills (“AFSA’s services”).
The SADC Lawyers’ Association (SADC-LA) is an independent and voluntary association made up of law societies, bar associations, and individual lawyers from the 15 member-states making up the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Its mandate is to advance and promote human rights, respect for the rule of law, and the promotion of democracy and good governance in the SADC region.


In the 2020 Arbitration in Africa Survey, conducted by the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, AFSA was rated the top Arbitration Centre in Africa. 

Dr Emilia Onyema well-known as the convener of the SOAS Arbitration in Africa conference series, led the SOAS Arbitration in Africa research project. Her research interests focus on the development of international arbitration in Africa and the engagement of Africa in international arbitration.

The 2020 survey focused on identifying the top arbitral centres in Africa and SOAS identified 92 arbitral centres or organisations operating on the continent. According to SOAS not all centres carry out the functions of a true arbitral centre as some of the centres do not administer arbitration cases but only provide facilities including hearing rooms to support the private dispute resolution process; while some effectively act as appointing authorities and again do not administer arbitrations. The research survey only took into account those institutions that administer arbitration under their bespoke rules and/or other rules, have a physical presence in an identifiable location within the continent and employ staff that administer arbitrations.

On the number of arbitration cases administered and the MOU’s concluded with other arbitral centres,
AFSA scored a total of 4137.4 points while the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA) in the second place, scored 1429.4 points. The survey confirmed that AFSA is the premier arbitration centre in Africa as it relates to experience in administering arbitration cases under its rules. The top five arbitral centres as ranked by respondents are AFSA, Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, Kigali International Arbitration Centre, Lagos Court of Arbitration and Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration.

The facilities (human and technical) that respondents expect an international arbitration centre to provide, include accessible location, panel of experienced arbitrators, multilingual staff and delivery services (including rules/notes/guidelines), state-of-the-art technology, well trained administrative staff, code of ethics for arbitrators, knowledge of socio-cultural context, attractive website, independence from government or other organisations, and security. 

The survey revealed that the major cities in Africa that host arbitrations, whether ad-hoc or institutional, are Cairo, Johannesburg, Kigali, Lagos, Cape Town, Abidjan, Abuja, Pretoria, Durban, and Tunis. South Africa, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban, is the country where the largest number of arbitrations are held.

Revision of  AFSA  International Arbitration Rules

Since the promulgation of South Africa's International Arbitration Act (IAA) in late 2017, which incorporates the UNCITRAL Model Law, the Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa (AFSA)'s international caseload has grown exponentially. To facilitate this continued growth, ensure best quality services possible and keep pace with developments in the rules of other major arbitral centres around the world, AFSA has decided to revise its International Arbitration Rules.

To that effect, AFSA has assembled a Drafting Committee and an Advisory Board composed of leading academics, experts and practitioners from around the globe to revise and redraft its current International Arbitration Rules, which pre-date the passing of IAA. Details on the Drafting Committee and Advisory Board can be found here.

Prior to the official launch of the new AFSA International Arbitration Rules, AFSA wishes to encourage wider public consultation and would like to invite all interested parties to view the draft rules and to submit their comments about key innovations and provisions. Refer details above.
Patrick Lane SC, Chair of AFSA International and Vice-chair of AFSA, says that: "The New International Arbitration Rules will be the product of a thorough review and the revisions will reflect developments of the international arbitration practice and procedure since the rules were first drafted. They will be an important step towards the implementation of new policies to foster the efficiency of AFSA international arbitrations."

Professor Dr. Maxi Scherer, Chairperson of the Drafting Committee and Advisory Board, is confident that "the New International Arbitration Rules will provide additional certainty and clarity to businesses trading across borders on the African continent and beyond and continue to make AFSA a highly attractive choice for parties in international arbitration proceedings."
For other news and stories download the
2020 edition of AFSA@Work here
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