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Parliament, Tuesday 24 October 2017 – The National Assembly at its sitting today passed the International Arbitration Bill, which proposes incorporating the Model Law of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law as the cornerstone of international arbitration in South Africa.

This followed a report on the Bill from the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services. The Committee received the Bill on 21 April 2017 for consideration and report and held public hearings on it on 12 September, at Parliament. The committee’s report on the Bill, with proposed amendments, was published in the 20 October Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports parliamentary paper.

South Africa’s existing international arbitration regime has been criticised. The Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards Act 40 of 1977, which currently regulates international arbitration in South Africa, is not in line with international developments. Concerns have also been raised that the Arbitration Act of 1965 is inadequate for international arbitration purposes, is outdated and needs revision to meet modern commercial needs.

In 1998 the South African Law Reform Commission recommended that South Africa adopt a Model Law, which would harmonise national laws related to international arbitration procedures.

The Bill provides for incorporating the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, as adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, into South African law. This is to provide for the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards, to repeal the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards Act of 1977 and to amend the Protection of Businesses Act of 1978.

The Bill will now be referred to the National Council for consideration. If the National Council of Provinces passes the Bill without amendments the Bill must be submitted to the President for assent.


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