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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.

Decision-Making Process

How Cases are Referred to Us

All of the cases considered by the Standards Commission are received as a result of the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (ESC) concluding, following the completion of an investigation into an allegation of misconduct, that a councillor or member of a devolved public body has contravened the relevant Councillors' or Members' Code of Conduct.

In those circumstances, the ESC will submit a report to the Standards Commission for Scotland in accordance with section 14 of the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 ("the Ethical Standards Act").  The Ethical Standards Act can be downloaded from our Ethical Standards Legislation page.

Details of cases referred to the Standards Commission by the ESC can be found under Cases - Referral Decisions on the left hand side menu or on Our Cases page.

Decision on Referral

When a report from the ESC is received, the Standards Commission will decide to:

  • direct the ESC to carry out further investigations
  • hold a Hearing, or
  • take no action

A policy outlining the factors the Standards Commission will consider when making such a decision on a report referred by the ESC can be found in our Section 16 Policy, which is available to download as a pdf.

The decision made by the Standards Commission is noted in the table on the Cases - Referral Decisions, Forthcoming Hearings and Hearing Determinations page under the heading 'Decision on Referral'. 

Purpose of Hearings

The Standards Commission holds Hearings (usually in public) to determine whether a Councillor or Member (the Respondent) has breached the relevant Councillors' or the Members' Code of Conduct.  The Hearing Panel comprises of three members of the Standards Commission.  The ESC will present evidence and/or make submissions at the Hearing about why she considers the Respondent has contravened the relevant Code.  The Respondent is entitled to attend or be represented at the Hearing and can also present evidence and make submissions.  Both parties can call witnesses.  Once it has heard all the evidence and submissions, the Hearing Panel will make a determination about whether or not it is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that there has been a contravention of the Code by the Respondent.  If the Hearing Panel decides that a Respondent has breached the relevant Code of Conduct, it will then impose a sanction. 

Scheduled Hearings

The table provided in the Our Cases information provides details about forthcoming Hearings and Hearings which have already taken place.  This includes the name of the councillor(s) or member(s), known as the Respondent(s) and the name of their council or devolved public body.  Details about the date, time and venue of the Hearing are also included, if these arrangements have been finalised.

The table also contains information about which paragraphs of the Code of Conduct the Respondent is alleged to have breached under the Heading 'Details of Breach'.  The Codes of Conduct can be found on our Codes of Conduct page.

Details of the procedures followed at a Standards Commission's Hearing are outlined in the Hearings Process Guide and Rules, which can be accessed from the menu on the left.

Hearing Panel Decisions

The Hearing Panel's decision about whether or not there has been a breach of the Code of Conduct and, if so, what sanction is to be applied will be noted in the table below shortly after the conclusion of the Hearing.

The Hearing Panel's full written decision will be available to download from the table within 25 working days of the conclusion of the Hearing, after the parties to the Hearing have been notified of the outcome in writing.

Details of individual cases will be removed and, thereafter, deleted in line with the Standards Commission’s Document Retention Schedule, a copy of this can be downloaded as a pdf.  

The Standards Commission will redact the name of a complainant from the published written decision provided the complainant is not a councillor, member of a devolved public body or MSP. This applies to all written decisions published after 26 January 2015.

Interim Suspensions

Section 21 of the Ethical Standards Act provides the Standards Commission with the power to impose an interim suspension on a councillor or member of a devolved public body on receipt of an interim report from the ESC about an ongoing investigation.  Any decisions made under Section 21 of the Act are listed in the table which can be accessed from the Cases - Interim Suspension menu option or on our Interim Suspensions page. Information outlining how the Standards Commission makes any decision under Section 21 and the procedures it will follow in doing so, should any such a report be received from the ESC can be found in our Interim Suspension Policy, which is available to download as a pdf.