Code of conduct for councillors

Amended code of conduct for councillors, setting out standards of behaviour to be followed by elected members of Scottish local authorities from 9 July 2018.

Section 1: Introduction To The Code Of Conduct

1.1 The Scottish public has a high expectation of councillors and the way in which they should conduct themselves in undertaking their duties in the Council. You must meet those expectations by ensuring that your conduct is above reproach.

1.2 The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000:

  • provided for the introduction of new codes of conduct for local authority councillors and members of relevant public bodies;
  • imposed on Councils and relevant public bodies a duty to help their members to comply with the relevant code; and
  • established an independent body to oversee the new framework and deal with alleged breaches of the codes.

1.3 The Councillors’ Code of Conduct required by the Act originally came into force in 2003, and was reviewed and re-issued in 2010. This latest version of the Code has been issued by the Scottish Ministers following consultation, and with the approval of the Scottish Parliament, as required by the Act.

1.4 This Code applies to every elected member of a local authority in Scotland. As a councillor, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are familiar with, and that your actions comply with, its provisions.

1.5 Councillors hold public office under the law and must observe the rules of conduct stemming from the law, this Code and any guidance from the Standards Commission, and the rules, standing orders and regulations of the Council. It is your personal responsibility to comply with these and review regularly, at least annually, your personal circumstances with this in mind, particularly when your circumstances change. You must not, at any time, advocate or encourage any action contrary to the Code of Conduct.

1.6 The sections of the Code which follow have been developed in line with the key principles listed in Section 2 and set out how the principles should be interpreted and applied in practice. No written information can provide for all circumstances and if you are uncertain about how the rules apply you should seek advice from senior Council employees. You may also choose to consult your own legal advisers, and on detailed financial and commercial matters, to seek advice from other relevant professionals.


1.7 Part 2 of the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act sets out the provisions for dealing with alleged breaches of the Code, including the sanctions that can be applied if the Standards Commission for Scotland finds that there has been a breach of the Code. Those sanctions are set out in Annex A.


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