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.

The Standards Commission for Scotland

The Standards Commission is an independent statutory body which has responsibility for enforcing compliance with the Codes of Conduct and providing general guidance on their interpretation. It adjudicates on cases of alleged contravention of the Codes of Conduct referred to it after investigation by the Commissioner and, where a hearing is held, has the power to impose sanctions. The Standards Commission has responsibility for various aspects of the ethical framework including:

  • adjudicating on cases of alleged contravention of the Codes of Conduct for Members of Devolved Public Bodies reported to it by the Commissioner following investigation of a complaint;
  • promoting and enforcing Codes of Conduct and providing guidance on the operation of Registers of Interests;
  • providing guidance to public bodies on:
    • the promotion and observance of high standards of conduct by members of devolved public bodies and assisting them in that task;
    • the Commission's relationship with public bodies in carrying out its functions; and
    • the Registers of Interests for Members of devolved public bodies.

On finding a contravention of a Code of Conduct for bodies listed in Schedule 3 of the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000, the Standards Commission can impose sanctions ranging from censure, or suspension from meetings of the public body for up to one year, to disqualification for up to five years. Details of the full range of sanctions available to the Commission are listed in Annex A of the Members' Model Code of Conduct.

The Standards Commission can also consider particular circumstances where it would be contrary to the spirit of the Code for it to be applied. In exceptional circumstances, it can issue dispensations to allow Members of public bodies, including councillors, to participate in discussion and vote on certain matters where, due to financial or non-financial interests, they would otherwise be prohibited from such participation.


Email: Gordon Quinn

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