Ethical standards in public life: consultation on model code of conduct for board members of devolved public bodies

Closes 8 Feb 2021

Opened 19 Oct 2020


The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 requires Scottish Ministers to issue a Code of Conduct for Councillors (Councillors’ Code) and a Model Code of Conduct for members of devolved public bodies (Members’ Code) as listed in Schedule 3 to the Act, as amended.

The aim of the Model Code is to set out clearly and openly the standards that Board Members of listed organisations in Schedule 3 of the 2000 Act must comply with when carrying out their duties.

This consultation sets out the proposals for a revised Model Code of Conduct and sets out the Key Principles, strengthens the obligations on individual board members and clarifies the actions that can be taken by the Standards Commission and the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in considering breaches of the Code.

Why we are consulting

The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 states that Ministers shall issue a Model Code only after it has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the Scottish Parliament. The same applies to any revision or re-issue of the Model Code.

The Councillors’ and Members’ Codes were approved by the Scottish Parliament in December 2001 and brought into effect on 1 May 2003. The current version of the Members’ Code was originally issued in 2010 and amended in 2014.

The Scottish Government recognises that a number of new developments have occurred since the Model Code was last reviewed in 2014, and that it is important to take account of such changes and provide users with an opportunity to contribute to the revised Model Code. We want to make the Model Code easier to understand and to take account of developments in our society, such as the role of social media. We also want to strengthen the Model Code to reinforce the importance of behaving in a respectful manner and to make it clear that bullying and harassment is completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated. We want to produce a Model Code that is fit for purpose and to ensure the highest standards of conduct are maintained.

This consultation will provide the opportunity for those with an interest in this area to consider the proposed update of the Model Code and to provide us with their views.

Read the consultation paper.

Give us your views


  • Communities and Third Sector
  • Constitution and Democracy
  • Public Sector
  • Scotland Performs