The Arbitration Foundation of South Africa (AFSA) was founded in joint venture by organised business, with members of the legal and accounting professions in 1996. In its 21 years in operation, AFSA has successfully administered hundreds of mediations and arbitrations.
Recently, AFSA announced and established the China Africa Joint Arbitration Centre Johannesburg (CAJAC). The CAJAC was created as a result of an agreement between AFSA, Africa ADR (AFSA’s international arm), the Association of Arbitrators and the Shanghai International Trade Arbitration Centre. The purpose of this forum was to administer disputes involving parties from China and the African continent as a whole. The establishment of CAJAC has been positive for step forward for arbitrations in South Africa and it has assisted in facilitating the desirability of using South Africa as a seat for international arbitrations.
Following on the success of the establishment of CAJAC, AFSA has recently announced the establishment of AFSA International. AFSA International is a division of AFSA which will be administering all international disputes, and not just those falling within the scope of CAJAC. All matters registered with Africa ADR will be administered by AFSA International going forward however; matters falling within CAJAC will continue to be administered separately.
To make it truly international, the AFSA has appointed case handlers who have administered disputes involving parties from the United Kingdom, France, Italy, China and Australia to name a few countries.
Established arbitrators from all over the world were also invited, and form part of the AFSA International Panel of Arbitrators. Parties can therefore be assured that their disputes will be heard by established practitioners, who have had experience on the global arbitration platform.
Although AFSA has its own standard rules for administering commercial disputes, all international disputes will be administered under the UNCITRAL Rules. This will accord with the New International Arbitration Act, which is expected to be enacted shortly.
Once the Act comes into effect, all international commercial disputes which the parties have agreed to submit to arbitration under an arbitration agreement, and which relate to a matter which the parties are entitled to dispose of by arbitration, will be administered under the UNCITRAL model, subject to certain exclusions.
The establishment of AFSA International, along with the new Act, will bring the administration of disputes in South Africa in line with international norms and standards and, it will promote uniformity with regards to international arbitration proceedings.
With AFSA's proven track record of administering disputes efficiently and effectively, there can be no doubt that AFSA International will continue maintain the same high standard, to establish it as a as a dispute resolution forum of choice for international arbitrations in Africa.