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After a long wait, the South African International Arbitration Act No. 15 of 2017 sailed through the legislature in November and was assented to by the South African President on 20 December 2017. It is available here (GG 41347 of 20 December 2017). As the Act does not state that it will commence on a date to be set by the President, it has commenced, subject to the transitional provisions (s 20), staggered dates for the coming into force of the Act, and clarification from Parliament regarding commencement.

We had previously written about the content of the International Arbitration Bill in an article on Baker McKenzie’s Global Arbitration News “The International Arbitration Bill: South Africa as a preferred Arbitration Venue on the Horizon?” and in the South African newspaper, the Business DayArbitration bill to regulate international proceedings” in 2017.

In short, the Act incorporates the wording of the Bill and will regulate international arbitration proceedings in South Africa and govern the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. The Bill incorporates United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, which is seen as the gold standard for international and domestic arbitration internationally. South Africa will only be reforming its law relating international arbitrations, as domestic arbitrations will still be governed by the Arbitration Act of 1965.


Rebecca Browning is a member of the Dispute Resolution team in the Johannesburg office of Baker McKenzie where she focuses on commercial litigation for a diverse range of clients and industries in South Africa. Her practice covers cross-border litigation, international arbitration, high-profile construction and engineering disputes, as well as regulation in the IT, telecommunications and banking industries. She has also assisted in lending transactions, equity listing requirements, securitization schemes and company law in the Firm's Banking & Finance practice. She has an interest in the use of technology in litigation, such as the e-discovery platforms in relatively complex construction and engineering disputes. Rebecca Browning can be reached at and +27 11 911 4342.