The latest mediation features and events

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March 2017



Reflections on a mediation day......

Mediation Flagship Course

Worried about Brexit?

Core College

For your interest.....

Reflections on a mediation day...

From a professional party: "The fact that both clients were keen to settle helped, but I don’t believe that a meeting simply involving solicitors rather than a mediator would have been likely to have had the same success.

Mediation was an eye-opener for me in that it exposed the friction which the adversarial pre-court correspondence and subsequent court procedure can create where parties are in dispute. As the mediator mentioned, if the benefits for each party to a dispute in settling that dispute can be drawn out and used to build the foundation of a settlement, that would seem more likely to create an environment in which a settlement is likely to be achieved, in contrast with an exchange of correspondence which itself often has the effect, whether intended or not, of “winding-up” the recipient. Over a long period, the cumulative effect of such correspondence will almost inevitably result in one or more of the parties being well "wound up" by the time the court hearing is reached.
There is a trend which has evolved for people speak to each other less and less, relying instead on email or other instant forms of communication. If you add in the pressure of expectation created by electronic communication, which squeezes time-scales in which to formulate and send a response, the consequent likelihood of an ill-thought out response being issued, and the possibility of misunderstandings arising, or offence being taken where none was really intended, is only going to increase, and so the prospect of a settlement will diminish accordingly..."

Read the full story here.

Our Flagship Course
What they say... 

"By far the best course I have ever attended. I wish I had done it years ago. John and his colleagues are excellent and passionate teachers. Two and a half years on, I still frequently return to the course materials and my notes" - Anna Howard, Non-Practising Solicitor and PhD Candidate, Queen Mary University of London

"A brilliant course.. and whether you become a mediator or not, it will change and enhance how you work and view the world." - Campbell Gemmell, Consulting Partner, Canopus Scotland

"I really wish I could do the full course, having only been able to take the first part. That was excellent, whatever you do afterwards." - Graeme Dickson, former Director General, Environment, Enterprise and Innovation, Scottish Government

"For anyone thinking about signing up to this course - do it! It is life changing both professionally and personally. And very enjoyable too!" - Rachael Bicknell, Senior Associate, HBJ Gateley

"I can assure anybody thinking about this course that it is transformational, both professionally and personally. An excellent course and one of the best training experiences of my life" - Stuart Wilson, Group Director of Communications and Marketing at Mears Group PLC

Last Call for Registration
for Core's Spring School

4 places available - Register now!

Core’s Flagship Mediation, Negotiation and Conflict Management training courses assist leaders, professionals, managers, consultants and decision-makers to communicate effectively, manage differences better and resolve disputes quickly. 
Tried and tested from years of experience in mediation and in some of the toughest negotiations, our internationally recognised team of coaches is led by Core’s senior mediator, John Sturrock QC.

Our course participants come from the public and private sectors, and many backgrounds including commercial and legal, government, banking, human resources, sport and not-for-profit, from throughout the UK and Europe.

Spring School:* Using Mediation Skills as a Professional
27 - 29 March 2017 
(available as a free-standing three day course and as a prerequisite for attending Modules 2 and 3)

Module 2
Building Mediator Competence 
4 - 5 May 2017

Module 3
Mediator Assessment
 25 - 26 May 2017

Any questions? Or to express your interest, contact us at 0131 524 8188 or email

You can find more information about our Flagship Mediation Training Courses here

Registration for our 2017 Residential Summer School for Leaders (3 - 6 September) is also open, with Early Bird rates.

Recent Articles and Blogs

  • A "Chance" Mediation Meeting - "I have recently begun to suggest that I meet with parties and their lawyers on the evening before the full mediation day....."
  • A Mediator's Pitch? - "To the question: “What do you do?”, I need to respond along these lines..."
  • Challenging Assumptions - Examples from two very different mediations, each challenging some assumptions about what can be achieved – and how.
  • Game Theory and Mediation - Adding Real Value?  - A collaborative piece by John and David Sturrock, discussing how game theory might show that mediation can add real value to negotiations.

Views from Assistant Mediators

We try, when we can, to offer alumni from our courses the opportunity to observe and assist at a mediation in appropriate circumstances. Two of our recent Assistant Mediators took the time to note their thoughts after a mediation day: 

Frances McAulay, Square Peg Development (pictured left above) - "All that was required was a handshake and a few thoughtful words. On reflection, the significance of this meeting can’t be underestimated – the parties are no longer ‘faceless’ to each other; the effect of ‘humanising’ the process for each side is important as they may already have formed views about each other – rightly or wrongly. Those few words to the couple could be significant later in the process...." Read the full post here.

Angie Meffan-Main, Scottish Government (pictured right above) - "So in the margins here, as often, there was an untold story. A story which had grown uncontrolled in the letters and papers. The first joint meeting felt like a release of pressure, a chance to hear the back story in a human and relaxed setting. For me it felt like the dispute had retaken humanity in its grasp away from the black and white words which had defined relationships for so long...." Read the full post here.

Angie also says: "It was really good to be involved as an assistant mediator. I hugely benefited from the experience. I was struck by how similar the process was to the training provided by Core. I know this perhaps sounds self-evident but many training courses I have been on haven’t shown the same direct practical application that the Core course takes.  I really felt after the course I was equipped with excellent skills to mediate in “real life” which is great!"


A Pop-Up Mediation Evening 

Brexit: A Constitutional Crisis? 

Tuesday 28 March 2017
The Grassmarket Centre, Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh 
Refreshments provided from 5.45pm

The UK and Scottish Governments – and other devolved administrations – seem to be at loggerheads over how to deal with Brexit – how might a mediation approach deal with the problem? 

During the Referendum on possible Scottish Independence, Collaborative Scotland and Core Solutions hosted a number of events to illustrate how a different approach could be taken to difficult constitutional problems. These events were a real success in opening up new possibilities, not just in process terms but in outcomes. 

Joined by the University of Edinburgh, in this event, we will invite participants to play roles for one of the many stakeholders: the Scottish Government, the UK Government, the Welsh administration, the Northern Ireland government, the Republic of Ireland, the EU, the USA, regions of England, Orkney and Shetland, other European nations – and perhaps others. 

We will ask these questions: 
  • How can we explore the real interests and needs of the various stakeholders? 
  • What happens when we have apparently opposing views? 
  • How can we model respectful negotiation even if our objectives are different? 
  • What other options might there be? 
  • What are we missing? 
  • How can a mediator or facilitator help with answering these questions? 
  • What kind of process might work well?

Facilitated by Core mediators, John Sturrock (recently appointed as a Visiting Professor in the University of Edinburgh) and Charlie Woods, with commentary from Oliver Escobar of co-sponsors, the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, we will mix discussion and learning on the process with interactive simulation. 

Don't miss it! The event is free. Registration is required with Eventbrite here

A new initiative

We are launching a new project at Core. We are calling it Core College, at least for now!  

For some time, we have been working with individuals who enjoy the benefit of personal coaching and conversation about what is important in work and life. 

In that context, we meet people with similar aspirations, needs and challenges. Often, they are leaders in waiting, emerging leaders or others with opportunities to influence change, even if not the actual final decision-makers – yet. Sometimes, they are in positions of complete control but without the kind of insightful support that will see them through difficult times – or just pondering change and how to flourish.  And we work with people who, like many of us, are not as confident within themselves as they (or we) may appear to be, nor so self-assured that doubts do not creep in at times (apologies for the double-negative!).  

Such people in business and the professions, just like those who are successful in sports and the arts, need a “third sider” to listen, ask questions, explore, challenge, support, encourage and provoke. It is a part of our growth. They also gain from sharing the new learning and business approaches which are available today but not always so easy to synthesise or condense – or apply to one’s own situation.

Most of all, however, they value being able to talk confidentially with others who are in similar situations. This provides sustenance, reassurance and confidence. Creating a safe space for intimate conversations with other like-minded individuals then becomes important for personal and professional growth.

If you might be interested to explore a place on our pilot Core College this year, we’d like to invite you to an evening supper and conversation with other like-minded individuals, just to explore this idea and discuss how we might best take it forward. We’ll also do a couple of interesting exercises, just to get us thinking! This will be a “without commitment” pleasant evening in any event. The only cost will be to share the price of a room and food. The date is Monday 27 March.

Contact Miriam if you are genuinely interested.......

John Sturrock acknowledged in Who's Who and other news

John Sturrock has once again been recognised for exceptional performance in the latest research by Who's Who Legal. John is ranked as one of the top four most highly regarded mediators in the UK Leading Silks category. 

"John Sturrock QC is considered a “thought leader” in the area. Sources cite his “keen intellect”, “preparation to get at core issues” and “massive wealth of experience in difficult negotiation situations”. Another respondent maintains, “John is the best mediator I have met and has brought about a settlement in two cases in which I thought resolution was impossible.”"

John has also recently been appointed as a Special Advisor to the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, with a brief to advise on dialogue and building relationships.

John's submission to the Scottish Parliament Commission on Parliamentary Reform has recently been published by think tank Reform Scotland

Michael Stuart, Ampersand Advocates, comments on mediation in practice: "Since becoming more familiar with the process of mediation, a journey that led me to qualifying as a mediator in 2015, I have not only used formal mediation where I thought it advantageous but also used the mediation skills and techniques learned within my general litigation practice.  It goes without saying that the skills of questioning, exploring, listening, maintaining an open mind and reality-checking a party’s position (even your own), skills at the core of the work undertaken by a mediator, carry considerable benefit outwith formal mediation. Recently however, I learned a salutary lesson that whilst you might be able to take a mediation away from a mediator it is much more difficult to take a mediator away from a mediation...."
Read the full post here

Core Reading 

Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth About Success by Matthew Syed

One of those must-read books, describing how we deal with failure. Contrasting the aviation and health sectors, we learn that willingness to accept human error, without defaulting to accusation and deference, is critical to avoiding tragedies in the future.
Follow John Sturrock on twitter a@coremediation.

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to colleagues who may be interested.

For more information about Core's activities, please visit our website at:

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Core Solutions Group · 10 York Place · Edinburgh, EH1 3EP · United Kingdom