We are delighted that Core has reported significant growth in 2011, our tenth anniversary year. The number of mediation days increased by just under 30% to nearly 100 in the year. Geographically, our mediators and facilitators acted in 24 different locations throughout Scotland and elsewhere, with nearly one fifth of mediation business conducted in London and other parts of England and Ireland. This is good news.

Our training arm saw a substantial increase in the uptake of our conflict management, mediation and negotiation courses. Work with UK Sport in the run-up to the Olympics, with the London and Welsh Assemblies and with many other public and private sector organisations emphasised the strength of our in-house offerings.

The legal sector remained a strong user of mediation services. In recent years, we have worked with over 150 different firms, many of them involved on several occasions, some over 40 times. The number of individual solicitors with experience of commercial mediation is now well in excess of 500 across Scotland.

Cases in 2011 included major commercial disputes, transport and infrastructure, construction projects, professional services, intellectual property, agriculture, sport, planning, oil and gas and workplace and employment issues. Clients ranged from major corporates to SME’s and individuals. 39% of mediations involved public sector bodies such as health trusts and local authorities. Most matters were resolved in one day.

At a time of economic difficulty for many sectors, mediation offers speedy and cost-effective ways to help bring problems and disputes to a conclusion at a time when most businesses and individuals simply cannot afford long-running unresolved conflict. According to a recent EU report, the cost of mediation is less than one fifth of litigation costs and is four times faster.

The words we hear most often are these: Why did we not have this conversation two years ago? Mediation is now used frequently at an early stage to nip conflict in the bud or to set up good business relationships from the outset, just as it can be used to bring to an end long-running litigation or unresolved impasse.

Research suggests that conflict costs UK business more than £30 billion a year, takes up over 20 per cent of leadership time and results in the loss of 370 million working days. Surely, much of this could be avoided? Recently, Core worked with a major Scottish company as it prepared its management and union representatives for wage negotiations. The result was a breakthrough in relations. As one key player noted: Rather than fighting for what we each wanted, we found something completely new by working together. Negotiations were completed in a few days rather than several months.

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