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NEW AFSA INTERNATIONAL RULES

reflect best international practice

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.

To view the new International Rules click here.
To view details on the Drafting Committee and Advisory Board click here.

SOAS
RESEARCH
SURVEY

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.
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SOUTH AFRICA, ALTHOUGH COMMON INTERNATIONALLY, THE RULES INTRODUCE THE AFSA COURT.
Read all about the AFSA Court by clicking here and about how Edwin Glasgow QC views recent developments at AFSA, click here to read his article.
Despite the Covid-19 Pandemic, AFSA has been hard at work and we are pleased to report on the following...
The AFSA Court - A new dimension in arbitrations administered by AFSA

By Patrick Lane SC, Chairman of AFSA International and a member of the AFSA International Court
President of the AFSA International Court

Retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo
International Arbitration Act opens the door to international arbitration
AFSA takes its rightful place in the international arbitration arena

By Edwin Glasgow QC, Vice President of the AFSA International Court
AFSA Court Members
Integrating and harmonising the practice of commercial arbitration across the SADC region

By Stanley Nyamanhindi, CEO SADC Division
Conference in the Seychelles on the cards
AFSA on the Executive Council of the International Commercial Dispute Prevention and Settlement Organistation (ICDPASO)
Establishment of Panel of Experts
AFSA to resume Training in 2022
Series of webinars - The Future in the Making
Online filing system
Perspectives 2
To read the above articles in the newsletter, click here.

PERSPECTIVES 2 
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.
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