The Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa (AFSA) is delighted to announce that its new International Rules came into effect on 1 June 2021.
Since the promulgation of the International Arbitration Act in December 2017, there has been an increasing demand for the administration of cross-border disputes and the appointment of arbitrators of international standing to resolve international disputes.
To facilitate the exponential growth in AFSA’s international case load, AFSA embarked on a process of revising its international Rules to reflect best international practice. Under the leadership of Prof Maxi Shearer, Chairperson of the Drafting Committee and an Advisory Board composed of leading academics, experts and practitioners from around the globe, AFSA commenced the task of drafting a new set of international rules.
Patrick Lane, Chairman of AFSA International, says “the new rules is a product of a thorough review which is an important step towards the implementation of new policies to foster the efficiency of AFSA international arbitrations”. Prof Maxi Sherer is confident that “the new arbitration rules will provide additional certainty and clarity to businesses trading across borders on the African continent and beyond and will continue to make AFSA a highly attractive choice for parties in international arbitration proceedings”.
One of the most significant changes brought about by the Rules is the introduction of the AFSA Court and a Secretariat. The members of the Court have been appointed and consist of senior international and African practitioners.
The function of the Court is, amongst other things, to appoint and sanction the appointment of arbitrators, to deal with the challenges to appointments and issues of jurisdiction. It is assisted by a skilled and experienced Secretariat who is responsible for the day-to-day administration.
The new International Rules will also be adopted for use in cross-border disputes in the SADC community.
AFSA has already commenced accrediting arbitrators who have the necessary qualifications and experience in relation to international arbitrations. They come, inter alia from Africa, the United Kingdom, America, Europe, Australia and bring with them the wealth of knowledge, not only in their legal specialisations, but their practical skills in the administration and techniques of international arbitrations. The accreditation of arbitrators will continue and AFSA welcomes applications for accreditation.
Other noteworthy features of the Rules include multi-party/multi-contract issues, providing for expedited procedures, regulating ethics and professional conduct and third-party funding, emergency arbitrations, transparency and provision for joinder, consolidation, and multiple contracts.
The Rules, coupled with the International Arbitration Act and the facilities offered by AFSA for the conduct of arbitration, provide the foundation for South Africa to increase its position as the most appropriate seat on the continent of Africa for the resolution of cross-border disputes.