Public appointments: guide

A guide to public appointments including information on how to apply.

Complaints process

The processes that the Public Appointments Team oversee include not only making new appointments but also extending a members term of appointment and reappointing members to the same position on the Boards of regulated public bodies in Scotland. If something goes wrong with any of these processes or you are dissatisfied with the way you were treated as an applicant, please tell us. We take any complaints made very seriously and will work with you to investigate what happened and to try and resolve your concern.

What you can complain about 

You can complain about things like: 

  • failure to follow a proper procedure
  • failure to provide a service, such as unreasonable delays in responding to your enquiries and requests
  • being unfairly treated

What we may not accept a complaint about

We will not normally consider complaints about decisions if you just say you disagree with them. 

For example, the following are not usually grounds for complaint: 

  • that you were not selected for an interview or recommended for an appointment
  • that you disagree with the feedback you have been given on your application or interview
  • that you were not reappointed for a public appointment you hold or held
  • that your term of appointment was not extended for a public appointment held

We would normally expect you to tell us why you believe an incorrect decision was made, or what information was not properly considered, why an aspect of the procedure was unfair or why you were not treated appropriately, etc.  In framing your concerns you may wish to have regard to the Commissioner’s Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies in Scotland, explaining in your complaint why you believe the Code has been breached.

Timescales to complain 

Please make your complaint in writing (email or letter) as soon as reasonably practicable and, in any event, within six months of the decision or treatment you wish to complain about.

When complaining, tell us: 

  • your full name and address and contact details
  • as much as you can about the complaint, including which public appointment round and which aspect of the process your complaint relates to, enclosing any supporting information, if these are relevant
  • what you consider has gone wrong
  • if possible, the outcome you are looking for

You can email us:

You can write to us:

Public Appointments Team
Scottish Government
Area 3F North
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh EH6 6QQ

If you have difficulty putting your complaint in writing, for example, due to a disability, please let us know and we will make appropriate arrangements for you to complain using an alternative method. You can contact us by telephone on 0300 244 1898.

Deaf and Deafblind BSL Users may contact us via contactSCOTLAND-BSL, the on-line British Sign Language interpreting service.  

What happens when you complain 

We have three stages in our complaints handling procedure.

Stage 1 - Frontline consideration 

The Public Appointments Team will give full consideration to the issues you raise and review your complaint and decide whether we can investigate (see paragraph 2 above). If your complaint cannot be investigated, we will notify you of the reasons for this, normally within five working days.  

If we can investigate, we will notify you. We will then aim to give you a full response to the investigation within 20 working days.

Stage 2 - Investigation 

If you disagree with the outcome of frontline consideration of your complaint, you may request in writing that it be taken to a Stage 2 investigation.

The Public Appointments Team will then send on all correspondence to the Scottish Government Complaints Team. 

An investigating officer will be appointed to investigate and respond to you on the matters you have raised. The investigating officer will have played no part in the appointment process. 

The Scottish Government Complaints Team will: 

  • where appropriate, discuss the complaint with you to understand why you are dissatisfied and what outcome you are looking for;
  • liaise, as appropriate, with those responsible for the appointment process you have complained about or others who can help us to understand the issues. It is likely we will need to share a copy of your complaint with them, along with any supporting information you have provided to be able to properly investigate the matters raised and come to a fair decision
  • give you a full response as soon as possible and normally within 20 working days of receipt of the complaint
  • tell you if their investigation will take longer than 20 working days. If this is the case, they will keep you updated on progress, the reasons for the delay and inform you of next steps

When things go wrong, the appropriate remedy will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. It is important that we take responsibility and understand what went wrong and why so that we can learn lessons from our mistakes and change policies and procedures, etc. as appropriate.  

Stage 3. External investigation of your complaint

If you remain dissatisfied with our response after we have investigated, you then have the option of asking the Commissioner for Ethical Standards to investigate your complaint. The Commissioner is the regulator of the public appointments process for regulated Ministerial appointments and is independent of the Scottish Government. 

The Commissioner will normally only be able to act if you have followed the steps above. 

To find out about the Commissioner’s work please visit or contact the Commissioner at: 

Ethical Standards Commissioner
Thistle House
91 Haymarket Terrace
EH12 5HE 

Telephone 0300 011 0550


Some public appointments advertised on the Appointed for Scotland website are not administered by the Public Appointments Team and are not regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner. Where you have a complaint about one of those appointments our 3 stage process for regulated appointments does not apply. We will forward on your complaint to the team that administers that appointment. We will tell you that we have done this.



Telephone: 0300 244 1898 (Freephone)


Public Appointments Team
Scottish Government
Area 3F North
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh EH6 6QQ

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