UCT launches Arbitration & Dispute Resolution Unit (ADRU)

20 Nov 2023
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20 Nov 2023

A new UCT Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Unit (ADRU) was launched at UCT on 10 October 2023, as part of a UCT-SOAS Roundtable on Careers and Diversity in International Arbitration.

Speakers at the Roundtable included a diverse group from local and international firms, arbitral institutes and international organisations, including Hamid Abdulkareem (3Crowns, London), Faadhil Adams (UCT, Cape Town), Sylvie Bebohi Ebongo (HBE Avocats, Paris and Cameroon), Jackwell Feris (CDH, Johannesburg), Zelda Hunter (White & Case, Geneva), Balla Galma Godana (PCA, Mauritius), Clement Mkiva (Bowmans, Johannesburg), Vlad Movshovich (Webber Wentzel, Johannesburg), Suzanne Rattray (Rankin Engineering Consultants, Zambia), Judge Kate Savage (Cape High Court, Cape Town), and Naomi Tarawali (Cleary Gottlieb, London). During an interactive discussion (moderated by Professor Lise Bosman and co-hosted by Professor Emilia Onyema of SOAS), speakers shared insights into their own career paths in international arbitration, as well as tips for students about building their own careers.

The event was opened by Professor Danwood Chirwa, UCT's Dean of the Faculty of Law, who welcomed guests, announced the launch of the Unit, and expressed Faculty support for the growth of arbitration and dispute resolution as a teaching and research specialisation at UCT.

The Dean noted that increasingly, arbitration and dispute resolution are being chosen by parties over court litigation – particularly in matters of dispute that crosses borders. Not only is arbitration likely to be notably faster and more cost effective, but it also has the added advantage of mitigating the uncertainties that come with engaging with unfamiliar judicial systems. In Africa, particularly, arbitration is set for an expanding and expansive future. The third edition of the Arbitration in Africa Survey Report published by the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (SOAS) revealed that there has been an increasing interest for, and engagement with, arbitration on the African continent. Practitioners, and the arbitration entities with which they are associated, have been steadily building confidence in African laws and their ability to successfully resolve Pan-African and international disputes. In particular, South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt record high participation in International Chamber of Commerce arbitration by parties from these three countries. 

As the Faculty of Law’s newest specialist unit, the ADRU brings a spotlight to this growing area of Faculty expertise, drawing resources from around the world and across disciplines. The Unit is poised to play a significant role in strengthening understanding, teaching and research of international dispute resolution in South Africa and on the continent. With a strong focus on South African and international arbitration, the international settlement of investment disputes, and international commercial mediation, the ADRU will build capacity and knowledge in the development of the practice of dispute resolution in Africa. 

Academics in the Faculty of Law will be joined by specialists from beyond the university to work on multi-faceted projects that promote the practice of arbitration in Southern Africa. In addition, the Unit will oversee capacity-building opportunities for UCT graduates and academics through its collaborations with the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Council for Commercial Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.

The ADRU is led by co-directors, Adjunct Professor Lise Bosman and Dr Faadhil Adams. 

Professor Bosman is Executive Director of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) and Senior Legal Counsel at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). She is an academic and arbitration specialist based at the Peace Palace in The Hague. Prof Bosman is appointed as Adjunct Professor at UCT where she teaches the LLM course in Commercial Arbitration and acts as PCA Counsellor to the Secretary-General for South Africa. She is a member of the Court of the Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa (AFSA) and a founding member of the Board of the African Arbitration Association. Her areas of specialisation are international commercial arbitration law and practice; the practice and development of international arbitration in Africa; international investment law; investor-State arbitration; and State-State arbitration. She is the General Editor of Arbitration in Africa: A Practitioner’s Guide (2nd Ed, 2021).

Dr Faadhil Adams is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Commercial Law at the University of Cape Town. Prior to joining UCT he lectured in Business Enterprises Law at the University of Johannesburg. He has held scholarships to both the Institute for the Harmonisation of Private Law (UNIDROIT), Rome, Italy and the Max Planck Institute, Hamburg, Germany. His PhD studies formed part of a joint doctoral programme in the field of international commercial contracts between the University of Johannesburg and the University of Lucerne, Switzerland. He is the Representative of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in South Africa. His areas of specialisation include private international law, arbitration and international commercial transactions. 

The ADRU is served by an Advisory Board. Prof Bosman and Dr Adams are joined on the Advisory Board by:

  • Funke Adekoya SAN practices as an independent arbitrator and litigation consultant in Lagos Nigeria, having retired as Head of the Disputes Practice Group at AELEX in Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Ndanga Kamau is an international lawyer based in the Netherlands. Her practice focuses on international dispute settlement, public international law, and private international law.
  • Professor Michelle Louw is a professor of law in the Department of Commercial Law at the University of Cape Town.
  • Vlad Movshovich is a partner and practice leader in the Dispute Resolution Business Unit at Webber Wentzel, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Judge Kate Savage is a judge of the Western Cape High Court and currently serves as a Judge of the United Nations Appeals Tribunal.
  • Professor Mohamed Abdel Wahab is professor of International Arbitration, Private International Law and English Contract Law, Cairo University.

In addition to on-going research the ADRU offers a LLM specialisation course on Commercial Arbitration that provides, inter alia, an overview of South Africa’s national legislation and regulations as well as insights into the practice of international arbitration. Students are challenged to understand the relevant elements of national arbitration law, private international and public international law. Plans are being developed for the inclusion of another LLM level course on Investor-State Dispute Resolution in the future.

Professor Chirwa remarked at the ADRU launch that arbitration and dispute resolution are areas of strategic growth in the Faculty from both teaching and research perspectives:

“Countries recognise the need for this area of expertise to develop as international trade is flourishing and legal disputes are increasing in their complexity. Arbitration will become a predominant mode for resolving disputes as courts are hampered by factors such as jurisdictional breaches. We know that practitioners and academics from Africa are playing an increasingly important role in international arbitration, particularly in the existing courts, institutes and specialist organisations – including the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Council for Commercial Arbitration.”

Professor Chirwa concluded by saying that he looked forward to seeing the ADRU grow and establish itself as a leading centre of excellence in this arena.