Ministerial appointments to public bodies: training pack for independent panel members

The recruitment process for many ministerial appointees is independently regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner, requiring compliance with the Commissioner’s 2022 Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies. This training pack is for independent panel members.

4. The principles of the Code


All public appointments must be made on merit. Merit is defined by the Scottish Ministers for each board position to be filled, based on that board's specific needs at the time of, and anticipated period for, that appointment. Only persons judged most able to meet the requirements of the post will be appointed.


The Scottish Ministers are ultimately responsible for making appointments in accordance with this Code and all other applicable legislation. The Commissioner is responsible for encouraging compliance with the Code and overseeing and reporting publicly on the practices employed by the Scottish Ministers and the people to whom they delegate responsibility.

Openness, Transparency and Integrity

The appointments process must be open, fair and impartial. The integrity of the process must be transparent and earn the trust and have the confidence of the public.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

The boards of Scotland's public bodies should be reflective of the communities that they serve, and the Scottish Ministers will take substantive steps to achieve that aim. Public appointments must be advertised publicly in a way that will attract a strong and diverse field of suitable candidates. The process itself must provide equality of opportunity and the practices employed must be inclusive for people from all walks of life and backgrounds.


Applicants and ultimately the people appointed to boards are integral to the good governance of Scotland's public bodies. Applicants will be accorded the respect that they are due for their interest and their efforts and appointees for their contribution to public life.

Focus on outcomes

The appointments process must be focused on successful outcomes. In simple terms, this means a good appointment that meets the needs of a board and increases diversity. The Commissioner is willing to vary the Code's provisions – in response to any reasonable requests from the Scottish Ministers and as long as the principles set out above are not compromised – in order to secure a successful outcome.



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