UCT Law's Arbitration & Dispute Resolution Unit (ADRU) includes a range of teaching, research and engagement activities, including LLM courses, regular guest lectures, seminars and workshops, and a strong working relationship with the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Unit aims to strengthen the teaching and research of international dispute resolution in the Law Faculty at UCT, with a focus on: international and South African arbitration; the international settlement of investment disputes (“ISDS”); and (international) commercial mediation. The Unit creates an academic centre for research and publication on (international) dispute resolution on the African continent; and aims to contribute to development in the practice of dispute resolution in Africa.

The Unit gathers academics based in the UCT Law Faculty and specialists from outside the university to work together on projects intended to strengthen the practice of arbitration in Southern Africa. It also offers capacity-building opportunities to UCT graduates and academics through collaborations with the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Council for Commercial Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands.

    Projects and Partnerships

    MoU with the Permanent Court of Arbitration

    In 2021, UCT Law entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague establishing a framework to work together towards strengthening the PCA’s presence in South Africa, and strengthening the dispute resolution capacity of UCT Law Faculty staff and students. Adjunct Professor Lise Bosman currently acts as PCA Counsellor to the PCA's Secretary General for South Africa, and Dr Faadhil Adams serves as the PCA’s Representative in South Africa. Faadhil is spending his sabbatical in 2024 at the Headquarters of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

    More information on the relationship between UCT and the PCA, and the signing of the memorandum can be found on the PCA website and also on the UCT News site.

    The MoU creates an annual one-year Fellowship Programme for UCT LLM graduates at the PCA headquarters in The Hague; makes hearing space in the OR Tambo Moot Court available for potential PCA arbitration and conciliation hearings taking place in Cape Town; and envisages broader academic and cultural exchanges.

    The PCA-UCT Fellowship Program offers a candidate from UCT’s LLM Program a Fellowship at the PCA’s Headquarters in The Hague for one full year. Over the course of the year, Fellows will gain experience in the operations of the PCA’s International Bureau, with an emphasis on both the practical and legal aspects of international arbitration. While in The Hague, Fellows will work with the PCA’s legal staff on legal, policy, and organisational matters arising from the PCA’s activities. Fellows hold the title of Assistant Legal Counsel for the period of the Fellowship.The 2022-2023 PCA-UCT Fellowship was awarded to 2019 LLM graduate Adebowale (“Debo”) Aluko (Nigeria), and the 2023-2024 PCA-UCT Fellow is 2018 UCT graduate Mary Kamwengo (Zambia).

    More details on this prestigious Fellowship are made available in the final quarter of each academic year. Further information on the relationship between UCT and the PCA, and the signing of the memorandum, can be found on the PCA website and also on the UCT News site.

    MoU with African Arbitration Association

    In 2024, UCT Law entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African Arbitration Association (AfAA). The MoU provides for collaboration on the publication of conference proceedings from AfAA’s annual conference, provides access by UCT Dispute Resolution LLM students to AfAA Conferences, and envisages further academic and professional exchanges. The first in ADRU’s online “UCT Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Collected Papers” publishes the conference proceedings from AfAA’s 4th annual conference held in Cape Town in October 2023, exploring the theme “International Arbitration in Africa: Transitions and New Perspectives”. Lise Bosman and Faadhil Adams act as General Editors of the Collected Papers, and UCT ADRU Working Paper 2024/01 is edited by Lise Bosman together with current PCA-ICCA Fellow and UCT graduate, Courtney Kemp.

    Collaboration with other Dispute Resolution Organisations

    UCT also collaborates on an ad hoc basis with the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA), based at the Peace Palace in The Hague. Through this collaboration, ICCA has hosted a number of UCT LLM graduates at the Peace Palace for internships or fellowships, including Susan Kimani (Kenya), Kathleen Mpofu (Zimbabwe) and Rhona Rwangyezi (Uganda). The 2023-2024 PCA-ICCA Fellow is 2020 UCT graduate Courtney Kemp (South Africa).

    2024 Scheduled Events 

    • 17 April 2024: Guest lecture to LLB students in “Dispute Resolution” Course; online; open to other interested students and practitioners
    • 9-11 October 2024: 5th African Arbitration Association Conference in Douala, Cameroon (fee waivers available to UCT LLM Commercial Arbitration students for in-person and on-line attendance). 

    Earlier Events 

    • 10 October 2023: An expanded version of the Roundtable on Careers and Diversity in International Arbitration (which traditionally concludes the Commercial Arbitration course) took place on 10 October 2023 for the 2023 Commercial Arbitration class and other invited guests, and was co-hosted by UCT Law and SOAS)
    • 11 October 2023: UCT Law co-hosted the 2023 annual SOAS Arbitration in Africa one-day conference in Cape Town
    • 12-14 October 2023: LLM participants in the 2023 Commercial Arbitration course attended AfAA’s 4th Annual Conference, held in Cape Town

    Arbitration & Dispute Resolution - Research

    Current and recent research being conducted by academics and specialists associated with the Unit includes:

    • Working Papers are included in the “UCT Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Collected Papers” (General Editors: Lise Bosman and Faadhil Adams) under three distinct imprints: Conference Insights, Working Papers and Lecture Series. The inaugural “Conference Insights” (ADRU Working Paper 2024/01, Editors Lise Bosman and Courtney Kemp) publishes the conference proceedings from AfAA’s 4th annual conference held in Cape Town in October 2023, exploring the theme “International Arbitration in Africa: Transitions and New Perspectives”. ADRU Working Paper 2024/01 is available as an online flipbook here, and as a downloadable pdf.  
    • The ongoing updating and expansion of Lise Bosman (Gen Ed), “Arbitration in Africa: A Practitioner’s Guide” (Second Edition, Wolters Kluwer, 2021);
    • Faadhil Adams’ participation in a project with the University of Oslo under the auspices of Compliance Politics and International Investment Disputes (“COPIID”), which focuses on the empirical compliance of States with arbitration awards. This is a long term project of at least three years from which a minimum of four publications will be produced that will be credited to the Unit; 
    • Faadhil Adams’ PhD (now awarded), aspects of which consider choice of law in arbitration.

    Arbitration & Dispute Resolution Unit - LLM Courses

    The international dispute resolution LLM specialisation at UCT Law currently offers a Commercial Arbitration course, and from 2025 we plan to offer both a Commercial Arbitration and an Investor-State Dispute Resolution course at LLM level.

    The Commercial Arbitration course provides an overview of South Africa's national legislation and regulations, international arbitration rules and treaty law that create the framework for international arbitration and investor-state dispute settlement, as well as insights into the practice of international arbitration. During the course, students are challenged to understand relevant elements of national arbitration law, private international law and public international law. The Commercial Arbitration course is taught by Adjunct Professor Lise Bosman and Dr Faadhil Adams of UCT, with regular guest lectures from international specialists.

    Arbitration & Dispute Resolution Unit - Governance

    Directors

    The co-directors of the UCT Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Unit are:

    Advisory Board

    The Advisory Board of the Unit includes:

    Course Graduates and Gallery

    For easy reference, we have compiled a download of some graduates of the LLM Commercial Arbitration class. Graduates share their thoughts on the value and benefits of the Commercial Arbitration course (CML5641S - see Faculty Handbook for details), which will help you to determine if this course is for you.

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