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The Standards Commission issues Guidance to help councillors and members of devolved public bodies interpret and adhere to the provisions in the Code of Conduct and to attain the highest possible standards of conduct.



Section 5 of both the Councillors' and Members' Codes of Conduct deal with Declarations of Interests and set out the circumstances in which a councillor or member of a devolved public body would be required to declare a financial or non-financial interest and withdraw from discussion and voting upon any item that interest related to.

In some very limited circumstances dispensations may be granted by the Standards Commission in relation to the existence of financial and non-financial interests which in terms of this Code would otherwise prohibit participation in discussion and voting. Such a dispensation would allow the councillor or member concerned to continue discussing and voting on the matter, provided the relevant interest has been declared, where it is deemed to be in the public interest that they be allowed to do so.

The Councillors' Code of Conduct states that applications for dispensations will be considered by the Standards Commission if it is considered that the request will apply generally to a class or description of councillors who are all affected by a particular category of interest.

In addition, both the Councillors' Code of Conduct and the Model Code of Conduct for Members of Devolved Public Bodies indicate that the Standards Commission can consider application for specific dispensation for situations where general or category dispensations are not granted by the Standards Commission.  Any such applications for particular dispensations should be made as soon as possible in advance of any meetings where dispensation is sought. Councillors and members should take no part in consideration of the matter in question unless, and until, the application for dispensation is granted.

How to make an application for a Dispensation 

Applications should be submitted in writing to The Executive Director, The Standards Commission for Scotland, Room T2.21, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP or by email to   The application should set out in detail all the relevant information, including the reasons why a dispensation is sought.

Factors to consider before making the application include:

  • whether it would be in accordance with both the spirit and intent of the Code of Conduct to grant the dispensation; and
  • whether sufficient reasons for the request have been provided, including what the effect or consequence would be if it was not granted. 

The Standards Commission will respond as soon as it reasonably can after receipt of all information and will normally be able to provide a response within 21 days. Where an application for dispensation relates to a specific item of business, the Commission will endeavour to respond before the meeting in question. Members of the Standards Commission only work on a part time basis, however, so this may not always be possible and, therefore, applications should be submitted to the Commission as soon as the relevant information is known.

Current Dispensations

All current dispensations under the Councillors' Code of Conduct and the Model Code of Conduct for Members of Devolved Public Bodies are listed below.


Dispensation for Members of Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal Joint Committee

Issued to Democracy, Governance and Resilience Senior Manager, City of Edinburgh
29th May 2018

Dispensation for Members of Tay Cities Region Deal Joint Committee

Issued to Clerk to Tay Cities Region Joint Committee
29th March 2018

Dispensation for Members of Orkney Research and Innovation Campus LLP

Issued to CE, Orkney Islands Council
26th February 2018

Dispensation for Members of Aberdeen City Region Deal Joint Committee and Opportunity North East

Issued to Monitoring Officers, Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council
9th August 2016

Dispensation for Members of Health & Social Care Integration Joint Boards

Issued to all Chief Executives of Local Authorities
13th March 2015

Dispensation for Members of Health & Social Care Integration Joint Boards

Issued to all Chief Executives of Health Boards
15th March 2015