On Board - A guide for Board Members of Public Bodies in Scotland (April 2015)

This Guide provides much of the basic information that a Board Member will need to understand their role as a member of the Board of a public body in Scotland.

Fundamental Principles of Board Life

There are three fundamental principles of Board life to which all Board members (including the Chair) must adhere:

Principle 1 - Corporate Responsibility

While Board members must be ready to offer constructive challenge, they must also share collective responsibility for decisions taken by the Board as a whole. If they fundamentally disagree with the decision taken by the Board, they have the option of recording their disagreement in the minutes. However, ultimately, they must either accept and support the collective decision of the Board - or resign. Board decisions should always comply with statute, Ministerial directions, Ministerial guidance and the objectives of the sponsor Directorate, as appropriate (noting of course that regulatory bodies are required to demonstrate independence in order to maintain credibility).

Principle 2 - Confidentiality

All Board members must respect the confidentiality of sensitive information held by the public body. This includes commercially sensitive information, personal information and information received in confidence by the organisation. It is also essential that debate of a confidential nature inside the Boardroom is not reported outside it.

Principle 3 - Conduct

Board members have a responsibility to set an example by demonstrating the highest standards of behaviour. It is important that nothing you do or say when acting in your capacity as a Board member tarnishes in any way the reputation of the public body or the Board. If you have specific concerns about the manner in which the public body is being run, these should be raised with the Chair in the first instance. If you fail to achieve resolution with the Chair, it is open to you to take them to the sponsor Directorate - but you should appreciate that this is a significant step.


Email: Gordon Quinn

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