This section contains details about Hearings to be held by the Standards Commission and the procedures to be followed. It also contains information about decisions the Standards Commission has made and any interim suspensions in place.
Cases - Referral Decisions, Forthcoming Hearings and Hearing Determinations
- LA/WL/1882 & NHS/Lo/1872
- LA/E/1737 & LA/E/1751
- LA/As/1963 & 1993
- LA/R/1946 & 1973
- LA/AB/1967, LA/AB/1969, LA/AB/1972/A,B, LA/AB/1979/A,B,C and LA/AB/1986
- LA/Mi/2166 & LA/Mi/2169
- LA/Mi/2166 & 2169
- LA/R/2257 & 3262
- LA/Fi/3039 & 3075
- LA/R/2257 & LA/R/3262
- Hearing Procedures, Rules and Guidance
- Cases - Interim Suspensions
Hearing Rules and Guidance
The Hearing Process Guide and Rules (Hearing Rules) applies when the Standards Commission, after receiving a report from the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (ESC), decides to hold a Hearing. In certain circumstances and following the agreement of parties involved in the Hearing the Standards Commission may use an Abbreviated Hearing Process.
Section 16 of the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 gives the Standards Commission the power to hold a Hearing. Section 17 of the 2000 Act enables the Standards Commission to decide what procedures to follow at any Hearing.
Members of the Standards Commission agree the content of the Hearing Rules. The aim of the Hearing Rules is to ensure that Hearings are managed fairly, efficiently and in an open and transparent manner.
The Hearing Rules state the actions the Standards Commission will take after a decision is made to hold a Hearing. They also outline the procedures to be followed by anyone who attends a Hearing. This includes:
- Members and staff of the Standards Commission (including the Hearing Panel itself)
- The Respondent (being the individual who is the subject of the complaint) and any representative they appoint
- The ESC or any representative she appoints
- Any witnesses
- Any members of the public or press in attendance
The Standards Commission reviews the Hearing Rules on a regular basis to ensure they remain fit for purpose. The current version is the Hearing Process Guide & Rules 2021 v1, which applies to Hearings arranged in respect of cases received after 26 January 2021. This version includes a flowchart which provides an overview of the Hearing process.
A Hearing Panel may also dispense with or vary any requirement of the Hearing Rules, other than those set by the 2000 Act, where it appears to the Hearing Panel it would be fair and just to do so.
A Note outlining how Hearing Panels of the Standards Commission make decisions (in terms of consensus or majority) on whether or not there has been a breach of a Code of Conduct by the Respondent and, if so, what action should be imposed can be found in our Note on Decision Making at Hearings, which is available to download as a pdf.
Relevancy of Evidence at Hearings
The Standards Commission has produced Guidance on the Relevancy of Evidence at Hearings. This guidance may be of assistance if you have been asked to appear before a Hearing Panel either as the Respondent or as a witness.
Section 19 of the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 obliges the Standards Commission to impose a sanction if a Hearing Panel has found there has been a contravention of a Code of Conduct at a Hearing. The sanctions available to the Hearing Panel are to censure, suspend or disqualify the Respondent. A policy outlining the factors the Hearing Panel will consider when making a decision on the sanction to be imposed can be found in our Application of Sanctions Policy, which is available to download as a pdf and is also in the table below.
Section 19(6) provides that the Standards Commission may, on imposing a suspension on a member of a devolved public body, direct that any remuneration or allowance deriving from membership of the body that would be payable to the member, not be paid or reduced. A policy outlining the factors that a Hearing Panel of the Standards Commission will consider when deciding whether or not to make a direction under Section 19(6) can be found in our Section 19(6) Policy, which is available to download as a pdf and is also in the table below.
The Standards Commission has produced Suspension Guidance to provide clarity on the extent of the activities in which a councillor can engage while they are subject to a period of full suspension (either on the finding of a breach of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct at a Hearing or as an interim measure while an investigation about their conduct is ongoing).
If you have any questions about the procedures to be followed at a Hearing, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The Standards Commission understands that being the subject of a Hearing can be daunting, particularly for Respondents who are not represented. We have, therefore, produced Guidance on Hearings for Respondents who are not represented. This is intended to assist them in understanding the format of the Hearing and how it will be conducted. Information can be found in our Guidance on Hearings for Unrepresented Respondents, which is available to download as a pdf and is also in the table below.
Hearings in Private
The Hearing Rules state that Standards Commission Hearings will be held in public unless the Hearing Panel determines the Hearing, or part of it, will be held in private. A document outlining how the Standards Commission makes any decision under the Rules to hold a Hearing, or part of it, in private; and the procedures it will follow in doing so can be found in our Hearings in Private Procedures, which is available to download as a pdf. The document also outlines the factors the Standards Commission will consider in making such a determination.
Appearing as a Witness at a Standards Commission Hearing
A guidance note outlining what you can expect at a Standards Commission Hearing if you have been asked to appear as a witness for either the Ethical Standards Commissioner or a Respondent can be found in our Guidance for Witnesses, which is available to download as a pdf and is also in the table below.
In cases where the Standards Commission has found a breach of the respect or bullying and harassment provisions in a Code of Conduct, it may consider any impact statement received from someone affected by the Respondent’s conduct, when determining the sanction to be applied. In doing so, the Standards Commission will be mindful of, and will take into account, the fact that the information in any such a statement has not been given under oath or tested. If you have been affected by a Respondent’s alleged breach of the respect or bullying and harassment provisions in any of the scheduled cases and wish to provide an impact statement, please contact the Standards Commission.
The Standards Commission’s Hearing Rules provide that a Hearing Panel may, at its own discretion or on the application of any of the parties, postpone or adjourn a Hearing. The Rules state that before any postponement or adjournment is granted, the Hearing Panel will consider:
(a) the public interest in the expeditious disposal of the case; and
(b) any inconvenience or prejudice to the parties and to witnesses.
The Standards Commission has produced a policy which aims to provide guidance and clarity on the factors a Panel may take into account when exercising their discretion in terms of (a) and (b) above, and in determining whether to grant an adjournment. The policy on Hearing Adjournment Requests is available to download as a pdf and is also in the table below.
Hearing Process Guide and Rules
Hearing Process Guide and Rules Flowchart
Guidance on the Relevancy of Evidence at Hearings
Policy on the Application of Sanctions
Policy on the Application of Sanctions 2021 v1
Guidance Note for Witnesses
Section 19(6) Policy - Imposing a suspension on a member of a devolved public body
Version 2019 v1
Guidance for Unrepresented Respondents
Abbreviated Hearing Process
Version 2020 v1.0
Hearing Process Guide and Rules
Hearings in Private Procedures
Version 2020 v1.0
Impact Statement Proforma
Policy on Hearing Adjournment Requests
Version 2021 v1.0