The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 (the “Lobbying Act”)

By Simon o’ Connor, 8th of September 2015

On the 1st September 2015, The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 was implemented in Ireland.  The Lobbying Act introduces the requirement for those involved in Lobbying to register their activities on a public web-based register which will be maintained by the Commission for Standards in Public Office (SIPO).

The Act covers the lobbying of Ministers, Senators, TD’s, MEPs, Members of local authorities, Special Advisers, Secretaries General and Assistant Secretaries in the Civil Service, Chief Executive Officers and Directors of Services in Local Authorities. Each public body will be required to keep a current list of designated officials.

Registration and returns

Each year, those engaged in lobbying activities must now submit three returns to the Commission of Standards in Public Office (SIPO) with the first return deadline being on the 21st of January 2016 . Each return must include the following:

  • Information about the client ( If lobbying was carried out on behalf of a client)
  • To whom the lobbying was made
  • The subject matter and the result they planned to secure
  • The name of the individual with primary responsibility for carrying on the lobbying activities
  • The name of each individual who is or who has been a designated public official and who is employed by, or providing services to, the lobbyist
  • Any alteration which occurred in the relevant period in respect of the information supplied by the lobbyist for the purposes of registration.

Offences

Offences set out in the Act include carrying on lobbying activities without being registered, failing to make one of the three yearly returns , submitting false or misleading information to the SIPO and failing to comply with an investigation.

The Commission for Standards in Public Office (SIPO) have the authority to carry out investigations of suspected offences and have powers to demand information and documents. SIPO also has the power of search and seizure. However, they cannot seize documents which are covered by legal professional privilege.

Penalties

Fines for offences committed under the new Act range from €200 up to €5,000 and depending on the severity of the offence, a maximum of two years imprisonment may also be imposed.

It is important to note that all directors and shareholders of a company can also be held liable for any offences commitment by that company in the situation where the offence that was committed was done so with the consent of the company’s directors/shareholders.

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