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Since leaving active legal practice at the Scottish Bar in 2002, John has pursued a full-time career in mediation in business, construction, the professions, sport, the public sector, senior management and other sensitive and complex matters and has facilitated many high-level political and policy dialogues. He is highly experienced in helping achieve resolution of seemingly intractable issues with diverse groups and different interests at senior levels.
As its founder and senior mediator, John has established Core Solutions Group (www.core-solutions.com) as a pre-eminent provider of mediation, training, negotiation and facilitation services. His mediation and facilitation practice extends throughout the UK, mainland Europe and the Middle East and he also practices from the highly regarded Brick Court Chambers in London. He is regularly referred to as one of the leading mediators in the UK and as a “global elite thought leader” in the field.
Also described as "one of the best teachers of mediation", he specialises in facilitation, negotiation and conflict management training and coaching for senior government officials, politicians, business leaders and leading sports people. For many years, he has worked with various parliamentary bodies throughout the UK on effective scrutiny of policy. He works regularly with senior officials and government ministers in the Scottish Government on negotiation and strategic issues, including current constitutional matters.
He facilitated the 2020 Climate Change Delivery Group in Scotland from 2009 to 2013. He has worked with UK Sport and many sports’ governing bodies and athletes for a number of years, particularly in the lead up to the London Olympics.
He is a founder of Collaborative Scotland (www.collaborativescotland.org), which promoted respectful dialogue before and after the 2014 Scottish independence referendum and which is active in promoting constructive discussion of Scottish and UK constitutional and other matters. He is an author and commentator. His blogs can be read here. He published the book A Mediator's Musings in 2020.
John is a Distinguished Fellow of the International Academy of Mediators, whose 2018 conference he hosted and chaired in Edinburgh in May 2018. He holds the degrees of LLB (First Class Honours) from the University of Edinburgh and LLM from the University of Pennsylvania. He received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) from Edinburgh Napier University in 2010 in recognition of his work in mediation and professional training. He has also been a Visiting Professor at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science.
Over 600 mediations across a wide range of areas and activities in Scotland, England, Ireland, Middle East, Switzerland, Malawi, involving banks, law firms, major business and commercial interests, public and private sector, government and charities, with values often extending to many £tens of millions. Experience of multi-party complex mediations through to two party conventional negotiations. High success rate. Examples of John's recent mediation and other work can be found here.
John’s style is engaging and innovative with an emphasis on being rigorous on the issues when necessary, while recognising the need for respect and dignity amongst all concerned. His approach is to value parties’ autonomy in making choices and to ensure that these choices are fully-informed and fully tested. He is facilitative and thorough, working energetically alongside parties with a lightness of touch and focussed perseverance. Adept at working with people at every level, he is respected for his ability to get to the heart of matters, while using the process creatively.
With a legal background he is able to help parties assess legal and factual risks where appropriate. His many years in business, including engagement with major plcs and other corporate interests in strategy work, enable him to encourage a commercial approach to problem-solving, ensuring that decision-makers can take responsibility for making realistic choices about the outcome.
John has acted as mediator and facilitator across a wide range of disputes and has conducted many high level, high value, multi party mediations in a number of jurisdictions. He has mediated in commerce, industry, the professions, sport, the public sector, senior management and other sensitive and complex matters and has facilitated many high-level dialogues. These disputes range over the public and private sectors and often involve a multiplicity of interests, including commercial contracts, banking, insurance, construction and engineering, infrastructure, intellectual property, real estate, sport, high level employment, shareholder and boardroom, investor matters, taxation, IT, professional indemnity, agriculture, landlord and tenant, oil and gas, procurement and transport.