The Standards Commission is an independent body whose purpose is to encourage high ethical standards in public life through the promotion and enforcement of Codes of Conduct for councillors and those appointed to the boards of devolved public bodies.
- What We Do
- Who We Are
- Standards Commission Meetings
- Audit and Risk Committee
- Who We Cover
- Our Service
- Policies & Procedures
News and Blog
- Health and Social Care IJBs - Standards Officer Appointments
- Survey on the Hearing Process
- Feedback on the Hearings Survey
- Advice Note for Councillors on ALEOs
- Updated Standard Presentation to Elected Members
- New Convener Appointed
- Consultation on the Councillors' Code of Conduct
- How Councils Work - Follow Up Report Nov 2016
- New Member of the Commission - Mr Michael McCormick
- Appointment of New Commission Member
- Updated Standard Presentation to Board Members
- Application of Article 10 of ECHR at Hearings of the Standards Commission
- Consultation on Draft Advice Note on Application of Article 10
- Advice for Councillors on How to Declare Interests
- A Councillor's Responsibilities to the Council as a Member of the Public
- Standards Commission's Regional Roadshows
- Revised Guidance on the Councillors' Code of Conduct
- Advice Note for Councillors on the Application of Article 10 of the ECHR
- Festive Closure
- January 2018 Professional Briefing
- Consultation on draft Advice Note for Councillors on Distinguishing Between Strategic and Operational Management
- Member vacancy
- Administrative Assistant Vacancy
- Flowchart on Making Declarations of Interest
- April 2018 Professional Briefing
- Proposed changes to the Councillors' Code of Conduct
- Standards Commission - BSL Plan
- New Standards Commission Member appointed
- Advice Note for Councillors on Distinguishing between their Strategic Role and any Operational Work
- Health & Social Care Integration Joint Board Members' Workshop 24 Sept 2018
- BSL Video on role of the Standards Commission
- British Sign Language Event reminder
- Response to Committee on Standards in Public Life's Review of Ethical Standards in Local Government in England
- June 2018 Professional Briefing
- Amended Councillors' Code of Conduct
- Amended Guidance on the Councillors' Code of Conduct
- Annual Report 2017/18
- Regional Roadshows on the Councillors' Code of Conduct
- Draft British Sign Language (BSL) Plan - consultation
- Standards Commission - Role and Remit (BSL Video)
- British Sign Language (BSL) Plan
- Sept 2018 Professional Briefing
- Interim Suspensions
- Survey of Members of Devolved Public Bodies
- Standards Commission Member Recruitment
- Standards Update December 2018
- Change of Venue - Regional Roadshow
- Assisting Constituents Card
- Further Analysis of Responses to Survey of Members of Devolved Public Bodies
- New Standards Commission Member appointed
- Hearings Flowchart
- Standards Update March 2019
- Ethical Standards Act Section 19(6) Policy
- Standards Update July 2019
- Appeal Judgement
- Annual Report 2018-19
- Standards Update September 2019
- Interim Suspensions
- Advice Note for Members of IJBs
- Draft Strategic Plan 2020-24
- Standards Update December 2019
- Standards Officers' Workshop
- Suspension Guidance
- Postponement of Standards Officers' workshop on 23 March 2020
- Hearing in Stornoway on 18 March 2020 postponed
- Standards Commission - remote working arrangements
- Standards Update March 2020
- Amended Advice Notes
- Standards Update July 2020
- Standards Commission Hearings
- Advice Note for Public on Councillors’ Code
- Standards Update September 2020
- Scottish Government Consultations on the Councillors' Code of Conduct and the Model Code of Conduct for Members of Devolved Public Bodies
- Direction on the Outcome of Investigations
- Recruitment for a new Convener
- Committee on Standards in Public Life Public (CSPL) Consultation: Standards Matter 2
- Standards Update December 2020
- Business Manager & Caseworker Recruitment
- Appeal Decision
- "You're on Mute!"
- Direction on the Eligibility of Complaints
- BSL video on Councillors' Code of Conduct and Guidance - Advice for Members of the Public
- Pause before you post!
- Standards Update March 2021
- Striking a balance!
- Why Transparency Matters
- Standards Update June 2021
- Why Respect is Key
- To share or not to share!
- Consultation on Revised Guidance
- New Convener
- Annual Report 2020/21
- Holding Hearings in Public
- Standards Update September 2021
- Standards Commission Decision to Disqualify Councillor Upheld by Court
- Vacancy - New Member of the Standards Commission
- Respect is Still Key
- Standard Training Presentations on the Revised Codes of Conducts
- New Codes of Conduct Issued
- Honesty and Trust
- Standards Update December 2021
- Audit Scotland’s Section 22 Report on the Ethical Standards Commissioner - Statement from the Standards Commission for Scotland
- New Standards Commission Member
- Similar names, different roles.....
- Outcome of Appeal to Court of Session
- Standards Update March 2022
- Social Media: Avoid the Pitfalls!
- Summary of Councillors and Monitoring Officers Survey Responses
- Surveys of Standards Officers and Board Members of Public Bodies
- Glossary of commonly used words and terms
- Leadership and Culture
- What is Lobbying?
- Her Majesty the Queen
- Annual Report 2021/22
- Why duty is still relevant
- Progress of Investigations Direction
- Standards Update September 2022
- The Ethical Standards Commissioner’s Public Consultation on its draft Investigations Manual
- Freedom of Expression
- Recruitment of two new Commission Members
- Effective Relationships
- Standards Update December 2022
- Ethical Standards Commissioner - Job Opportunities
- Festive Office Hours
- Blog: Quasi-Judicial and Regulatory Decision-Making
- The Committee on Standards in Public Life's Report "Leading in Practice"
- Appointment of new Ethical Standards Commissioner
- Social Impact Pledge
- The Auditor General’s Report on the Ethical Standards Commissioner: Statement from the Standards Commission for Scotland
- The Ethical Standards Framework
- Polarisation in Politics
- Standards Commission’s Response to Scottish Government’ Electoral Reform Consultation
- New Standards Commission Member
- Multiple Roles: Conflicts of Interest?
- Standards Update March 2023
- New Standards Commission Member - Helen Donaldson
- Distinguishing between lobbying and helping constituents or service users
- Preferential Treatment
- Standards Commission's Response to the Scottish Government's Consultation on the Review of the National Outcomes
- Making a complaint
- Standards Update June 2023
- Consultation on Section 31 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973
- Volunteering at The Yard
- Eligibility Direction
- Scottish Government’s Consultation on Mandatory Training for Councillors on their role in the Planning System
- Standards Update September 2023
- Dispensations Granted for Members of Cairngorms National Park Authority and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority
- When do the Codes of Conduct apply?
- New Advice Note for Members of College Boards
- Standards Commission’s Draft Strategic Plan 2024/28
- Use of Personal Information
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Role and Remit
Q: What is the Standards Commission?
A: The Standards Commission is an independent body set up by the Ethical Standards in Public etc. (Scotland) Act 2000. The Commission encourages high ethical standards in public life through the promotion and enforcement of Codes of Conduct for Councillors and Members of Devolved Public Bodies.
The Standards Commission works with local authorities and public bodies to help them assist their councillors and members to achieve the highest standards of conduct. We also issue guidance on the Codes of Conduct and advice notes on specific provisions they contain, such as on how to declare interests, and bullying and harassment.
Complaints about breaches of the Codes of Conduct by councillors and members of devolved public bodies are investigated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner (ESC). Following the completion of an investigation, the ESC will submit a report for the consideration of the Standards Commission. The Standards Commission will review the Report and determine whether to: direct the ESC to carry out further investigations; hold a Hearing; or do neither.
The Standards Commission will hold a Hearing, if it considers it is in the public interest and proportionate to do so, to determine whether the councillor or member of a devolved public body in question has contravened their respective Code of Conduct. If the evidence presented to the Standards Commission’s Hearing Panel supports that a breach of the Code had occurred, the Hearing Panel will then determine the sanction to be applied, in accordance with the 2000 Act.
Q: How is the Standards Commission different from the Ethical Standards Commissioner?
A: The ESC is an independent officeholder responsible for investigating complaints about councillors, members of devolved public bodies and Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) who are alleged to have contravened their relevant Code of Conduct.
Following the conclusion of an investigation into a complaint about a councillor or member of a devolved public body, the ESC will submit a report to the Standards Commission. It is the Standards Commission's responsibility to determine whether to hold a Hearing, direct the ESC to undertake further investigations, or do neither. Where the Standards Commission decides to hold a Hearing, a Hearing Panel comprised of Members of the Commission will determine whether the councillor or member has breached the relevant Code of Conduct and, in the event that a breach is found, the sanction to be applied.
The ESC reports to the Scottish Parliament on the outcome of any investigation the have undertaken into whether a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) has breached their Code of Conduct. The Standards Commission has no jurisdiction to adjudicate on a complaints about MSPs.
Q: Why are the Standards Commission and ESC separate organisations?
A: The independence of the investigatory role undertaken by the ESC and the adjudicatory role undertaken by the Standards Commission is a crucial principle. The reason for, and benefit of, the separation of functions between the two distinct organisations is to ensure impartiality, fairness and objectivity in the decision-making process.
Codes of Conduct
Q: Where can I get a copy of the Codes of Conduct?
Q: How do I make a complaint about a councillor or member of a devolved public body?
A: If you consider that a councillor or member of a devolved public body has breached their Code of Conduct, you can make a complaint to the ESC. This is a separate organisation from the Standards Commission. More information about the ESC and how to make a complaint can be found on the ESC's website.
Q: Can I attend a Standards Commission Hearing?
A: The Standards Commission's Hearings are usually held in public unless there is a very good reason to hold them in private. This means you can attend and observe a Hearing. However, you cannot participate in any Hearing unless you are a party to it or have been asked to be a witness. Details of forthcoming Hearings can be found on the Cases page of this website.
The Standards Commission will, on occasion, hold Hearings online. It will usually only do so if there are no witnesses and the Respondent accepts the facts found by the ESC in the investigation. If any Hearing is to be held online, it will be livestreamed and a link to watch the livestream will be published on the website here.
Q: Where can I find the outcome of Hearings that have been held?
A: The outcome of Hearings that have been held, including the written decision can be found on the Cases page of this website.
Standards Commission's Members and Governance
Q: Who are Members of the Standards Commission?
A: Details of the Members of the Standards Commission can be found on our Who We Are page of this website.
Q: How is the Standards Commission funded?
A: The Standards Commission receives funding on a cash basis from the overall budget of the Scottish Parliamentary corporation. The Executive Director is the Accountable Officer.