Seven principles of public appointments

The Principles of the Code

Seven key principles underpin the Code of Practice.  These principles form the basis of the public appointments process in Northern Ireland.

The principles have been tailored and updated to reflect the needs of our devolved administration and society.


All public appointments will be made on the basis of merit.  Only those individuals judged to best meet the requirements of the post will be appointed to our public bodies.


Currently, the make-up of the boards of our public bodies fails to reflect the make-up of our population. The opportunity to appoint the best people is greatly increased when every potential applicant is attracted and encouraged to apply and when individual differences are truly valued. Everyone involved in the public appointments process has a duty to encourage a pool of applicants as diverse as the people of Northern Ireland. By their actions throughout the public appointments process, Departments will demonstrate their commitment to this principle.


The appointments process will ensure equality of opportunity and treatment of all applicants at every stage.

Openness, Transparency and Independence

The practices employed by Departments at every stage in an appointment round must be open, transparent and consistent with the recognised principles of open government.

All public appointment competitions must include a demonstrable element of independent participation in the assessment of applicants.


Public appointees must be people who understand, apply and are committed to the principle of integrity and will perform their duties with moral rigor and honesty without personal or corporate gain.


Whilst the Commissioner’s Code must be followed for every appointment, the procedures applied at each stage of an appointment should be proportionate to the size and purpose of the public body and to the posts to be filled. The proportionality principle must not be used to circumvent proper procedures or avoid good practice.


Everyone engaged in the public appointments process must show respect for all others involved in the process.  Departments will promote and demonstrate their commitment to this principle.