Model code of conduct for public bodies in Wales

1. Introduction

  • The Welsh Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards.  In support of this, all board members of public bodies in Wales are required to abide by the principles set out in this Code of Conduct.  Non-compliance with this Code shall be viewed as a breach of your terms and conditions of appointment.
  • Your appointment as a board member may be terminated should you fail to perform your duties to the appropriate standards or where it is determined that your conduct means that you are no longer a suitable person to hold public office.
  • The role and responsibilities of board members is outlined in the Framework Document agreed between the Welsh Government and the [name of Body] on [date] whilst specific terms and conditions of service are set out in board members’ individual letters of appointment.

2. Key principles of public life

  • As a board member your behaviour, actions and the decisions you make must be fully consistent with the principles set out in this Code of Conduct.  It is your responsibility to ensure that you are familiar with, and comply with, all the relevant provisions of this code.
  • The key principles upon which this Code of Conduct is based are the Seven Principles of Public Life.  These are attached at Annex 1.  The Welsh Government’s priorities are set out in the Programme for Government and the principles of managing public funds are explained in the Welsh Government’s ‘Managing Welsh Public Money’.  

3. General conduct

As a board member you will be expected to:

  • play a full and active role in the work of the body and to fulfil your duties and responsibilities conscientiously and act, at all times, in good faith and in the best interests of the body;
  • deal with the public and their affairs fairly, efficiently, promptly, effectively and sensitively and to the best of your abilities;
  • comply with any statutory or administrative requirements relating to your post; and
  • respect the principles of collective decision-making and corporate responsibility.

    You must not:
  • Act in a way that favours unjustifiably or discriminates unfairly against particular individuals or interests; nor
  • Use – or attempt to use – the opportunity of public service to promote your personal interests or those of any connected person, firm, business or other organisation. 

Use of Public Funds

  • You have a duty to safeguard public funds – which for this purpose should be taken to include all forms of receipts from fees, charges and other sources – and to ensure the proper custody of assets which have been publicly funded
  • You must take appropriate measures to ensure that the body at all times uses its resources as economically, efficiently and effectively as possible, with full regard to the relevant statutory provisions and to relevant guidance in Managing Welsh Public Money.
  • You are responsible for ensuring that the body does not exceed its powers or functions, whether defined in statute or otherwise, or through any limitations on its authority to incur expenditure.


  • You must comply with the rules set by the board of the body regarding remuneration, allowances and expenses.  It is your responsibility to ensure compliance with all relevant HM Revenue and Customs requirements concerning payments, including expenses.    

Use of official resources

  • You must not misuse official resources – facilities, equipment, stationery, telephony, information and communications technology and other services, for example – for personal gain or for political purposes.  Use of such resources must be in line with the body’s rules on their usage. 

Use of official information

  • You must not use any knowledge gained from your work as a member of the board of the body for private profit or any other direct or indirect gain, nor should you lay yourself open to suspicion of doing so.  You must not, without receiving proper authority, disclose any information which is confidential in nature or which is provided in confidence to you. This duty continues to apply even after you have left the board. 

Hospitality, gifts and other benefits

  • You must not accept any gift, hospitality or benefit of any kind which might be seen to compromise your personal judgement or integrity or to influence you to show favour or disfavour to any person or organisation.  Nor should you leave yourself open to the accusation that you might have been so influenced.  If a gift is sent to you which you feel you cannot return, or a gift or hospitality is offered to you in circumstances in which it would cause embarrassment or offence (to you or the giver or others present) if you were to decline it, you should promptly record its receipt in writing in the public register of gifts maintained by the body for such purpose.

Political activity

  • In your public role you must abstain from all controversial political activities and be – and be seen to be – politically impartial.  You should not occupy a paid party political post, nor hold a particularly sensitive or high-profile role in a political party.  On matters directly affecting your work as a board member, you should not make political statements nor engage in other political activities.  You must abide by any guidance issued from time to time by the Welsh Government on attendance at Party Political Conferences and similar events.  
  • If you are a member, or become a member, of the UK Parliament, the House of Lords, Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament, the Scottish Parliament or the Northern Ireland Assembly or are, or become, a local councillor in Wales, you are exempt from the requirements in paragraph 3.9, although you should still exercise proper discretion on matters directly relating to the work of the body and recognise certain political activities may be incompatible with your role as a board member.  The provision banning use of the body’s premises or facilities for political purposes will continue to apply.
  • You will also need to refer to The Senedd Cymru (Disqualification) Order 2020 which disqualifies office holders of certain bodies from becoming members of the Senedd.

4. Members’ interests

Handling conflicts of interests

  • You must comply with the rules set in place by the body as to the handling of conflicts of interest.  As a minimum these will require that you:
    • Declare as soon as possible in the public register kept by the body for such purpose any personal or business interests you maintain which may – or may be perceived to conflict with your public duties;
    • Withdraw from the discussion or determination of matters in which you have a direct pecuniary interest (in matters in which you have an interest that is not of a direct pecuniary kind, you should consider whether participation in the discussion or determination of a such would suggest a real danger of bias).   
  • It is your responsibility to ensure that your entry in the body’s register of members’ interests is accurate and kept fully up-to-date.
  • Conflict of Interest is dealt with in more detail in your terms and conditions of employment.

Business Appointments: Acceptance of Appointments During Term of Office and Following Resignation or Retirement

  • On taking up your appointment to the body you were required to make a declaration detailing any/all your other employment/business appointments.  You should be aware that the body’s rules on handling conflicts of interest also include provisions should you seek to take up any new position during the period of your appointment.  On leaving you must comply with the rules of the [name of body] on acceptance of future employment or opportunities.
  • For the avoidance of doubt you should consult with your board and the Welsh Government before accepting any new appointments, including any posts you wish to take up within 24 months of leaving the board.

5. Relationship with employees

  • All boards have a responsibility to monitor the performance of the Chief Executive and other senior staff.  Where the terms and conditions of employment of such officers include an entitlement to be considered for performance-related pay, and where such payments are assessed by the board, you must ensure that you are satisfied that you have access to all pertinent detail and advice necessary to make fully informed judgements.
  • The Chief Executive is responsible for the day-to-day management of the body [and is, ex-officio, a member of its board].  The Chief Executive and other staff are available to advise, inform and assist you with your duties as a board member.  As such, you will need to liaise closely with the Chief Executive and other senior staff in order that you might exercise your responsibilities effectively.
  • To the extent permitted by the [state Act/Charter/Warrant or other provision under which the body in question was established], responsibility for day-to-day management matters should be delegated to staff so far as is practicable. There should be a clearly defined framework of strategic control which also outlines those matters which are to remain reserved exclusively for decision by the board (issues of corporate strategy; key strategic objectives and targets; major decisions involving the use of financial and other resources; and personnel issues including key appointments and standards of conduct, for example).
  • You must not ask or encourage employees to act in any way which would conflict with their Code of Conduct.

6. Personal liabilities of Board members

  • Although any legal proceedings initiated by a third party are likely to be brought against the board or the body as a whole, in exceptional cases civil or criminal proceedings may be brought against the chairperson or other individual board members (for example, a board member may be personally liable if they make a fraudulent or negligent statement which results in loss to a third party).  Board members who misuse information gained by virtue of their position may be liable for breach of confidence under common law or may commit a criminal offence under insider dealing legislation.
  • The Welsh Government has indicated, however, that an individual board member who has acted honestly and in good faith will not have to meet out of their own personal resources any personal civil liability which is incurred in execution or purported execution of their board function, save where they have acted recklessly.  Subject to its own specific statutory powers, then, the body should issue to its board members suitable indemnities consistent with this paragraph.
  • Board members who need further advice should consult the body’s legal advisers.

Annex 1

The Seven Principles Of Public Life


Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest.  They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.


Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.


In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.


Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.


Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take.  They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.


Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.


Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.