Africa ADR Landscape Report

Recently, the UK Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and GREAT Legal Services commissioned Africa Legal to examine the progress and challenges faced by Africa in the realm of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Consequently, Africa Legal published a report in June 2023, titled “Africa’s Growing Dispute Resolution Landscape”. The Report outlines the progress made in recent years, highlighting the establishment of arbitration centres across the continent, and the growing adoption of mediation in various jurisdictions. It also addresses the challenges that hinder the development of ADR in Africa and the opportunities for increased partnerships with the UK legal sector.

With respect to arbitration, the report notes that South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt and Rwanda all have established arbitration centres, with Cairo and Johannesburg being considered the most popular arbitral seats on the continent, according to a 2020 survey run by the SOAS University of London. Despite these developments, it is noted that arbitration in the continent faces various obstacles including, inadequate legal enforcement, with parties often concerned that any arbitral awards will be ignored; party resistance, with disputants often wanting to use arbitral seats and venues outside Africa; lack of qualified arbitrators and underfunding of local arbitration centres.

However, the report notes that as an inbound investment in Africa continues to grow and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area increases the volume of cross-border trade, international disputes are likely to rise. This is likely to be accompanied by a growing acceptance of disputes being resolved on the ground as local arbitral seats become more established.

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