Arbitration Process In South Africa (2023)

Arbitration involves submitting a dispute to one or more arbitrators who make a binding decision on the matter, as agreed to by the parties involved. By choosing arbitration, the parties opt for a private dispute resolution process instead of going to court.

The arbitration process in South Africa can be handled by organizations such as the Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa (AFSA) or the Association of Arbitrators (South Africa) (AASA) to appoint a qualified individual. The agreement between the parties usually outlines the procedure for selecting an arbitrator.

Arbitration Process in South Africa

The process of arbitration in South Africa is governed by the Arbitration Act 42 of 1965, as amended (the Act). The process can be initiated by agreement between the parties or by a court order. The parties can agree to arbitration either before or after a dispute arises. If the parties agree to arbitration, they will also need to agree on the terms of the arbitration, including the rules and procedures to be followed.

The Act also provides for the appointment of arbitrators by agreement between the parties, or by the court if the parties are unable to agree. The arbitrator must be impartial and independent, and must not have any direct or indirect interest in the outcome of the dispute.

The arbitration process in South Africa is generally conducted similarly to court proceedings, with the arbitrator hearing evidence and arguments from both sides before making a final decision. The arbitrator’s decision, known as an award, is binding on the parties and can be enforced through the courts.

The Act also provides for the confidentiality of arbitration proceedings, unless the parties agree otherwise. This means that the details of the dispute and the arbitration process are not made public.

What Are The Major Advantages Of Arbitration?

  • Flexibility

One of the foremost advantages of arbitration is flexibility. Arbitration can be customized to suit the needs of the parties involved. The parties can agree on the rules and procedures to be followed, the location and timing of the arbitration, and the qualifications and experience of the arbitrator.

  • Speed

Arbitration can often be faster than traditional court proceedings, which can be subject to delays due to crowded court dockets and other procedural issues.

  • Cost-effective

Arbitration can be less expensive than traditional litigation, as the parties typically pay only for the arbitrator’s time and any associated costs, such as venue rental and administrative fees.

  • Confidentiality

Confidentiality is another huge benefit of arbitration. Arbitration proceedings can be kept confidential, which can be particularly beneficial for disputes involving sensitive information or trade secrets.

  • Expertise

Arbitrators are often selected based on their expertise in a particular area, such as construction, intellectual property, or international trade. This can lead to more informed and specialized decisions.

  • Finality

Arbitration awards are generally final and binding, which can provide certainty and closure for the parties involved.



Overall, the arbitration process in South Africa is a useful tool for resolving disputes outside of the court system. It is generally quicker and less expensive than going to court and allows the parties to have more control over the process and outcome of the dispute resolution.

The cost of arbitration in South Africa can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the dispute, the length of the proceedings, the location of the arbitration, the fees charged by the arbitrator and other associated costs.

Arbitrators in South Africa typically charge either hourly rates or fixed fees for their services, which may range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of South African Rand per day. The parties are responsible for paying the arbitrator’s fees as well as any associated costs, such as venue rental, administrative fees, and legal fees.

The parties must agree on the fees and costs before the arbitration process starts to prevent disputes or misunderstandings later. Parties should choose reputable arbitration organizations, such as the Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa (AFSA), that provide various arbitration services and can assist with the selection of arbitrators and management of the arbitration process.