The size of the civil and commercial mediation market has grown by around a third to 3,700 cases per year, compared with 2,700 in 2005.

The biennial audit by The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), which surveyed more than 350 mediators, reported that the industry is now worth in the region of £8.2m a year in fee income.

Around three-quarters of mediations now settle on the day, with another 13 per cent settling shortly after. The aggregate settlement rate of 88 per cent is 5 per cent down on 2005.

The study found that mediation continues to be dominated by the legal profession, with 57 per cent of mediators being legally qualified – the same figure as two years ago.

According to the report, however, there are signs that this position may change in the future, as the less experienced and younger mediators appear to come from more diverse groups, such as accountants and engineers.

Among the ‘novice’ group, which makes up 23 per cent of the market, only a third were legally qualified.

The CEDR’s chief operating officer and director Graham Massie, the author of the latest report, said it is encouraging to see mediators coming through the ranks from professions other than the law.

“The instinct of lawyers is still to use their peers, as they have an understanding of their abilities,” said Massie. “But more and more the legal profession is realising that specialist knowledge on a particular area is increasingly important in mediation.”