Regulation of Lobbying Act
The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 was signed into law on Wednesday 11 March 2015.
The purpose of the Act is to provide for a web-based Register of Lobbying to make information available to the public on the identity of those communicating with designated public officials on specific policy, legislative matters or prospective decisions. The Act also provides restrictions and conditions on the taking up of certain employments by certain designated officials for a specified period of time where a possible conflict of interest arises.
On 30 April 2015 www.lobbying.ie was launched. The Register is available for a trial period from 1 May – 31 August 2015 to allow people to pre-register, familiarise themselves with the Register and the process of submitting a return. During this trial period any information uploaded to the Register will not be published.
On 1 September 2015 the Act will come into effect. Anyone carrying on lobbying activities from 1 September will need to keep a record of these activities and submit them to the Register every four months. This information will be required to be submitted to the Register within 21 days after the end of each four month period. The first returns are due to be submitted to the Register by 21 January 2016.
The Register of Lobbying will be available to view for free online at www.lobbying.ie.
Regulator of Lobbying
The Act provides that the Standards Commission will be the Regulator of Lobbying. The Standards Commission will oversee the implementation of the register, monitor compliance, provide guidance and assistance and where necessary investigate and pursue breaches of legal requirements in due course.
The focus of the Registrar in the initial period of the operation of the legislation will be on guidance and information. It is intended that provisions regarding the Registrar’s powers of sanction will not be commenced until a review of the implementation of the legislation has been carried out one year after the commencement of the legislation.
Promoting understanding of the legislation
The Standards Commission has a role under the legislation to issue guidance and information to promote an understanding of the legislation. The Standards Commission has prepared an information guide on the Regulation of Lobbying (available here) and guidelines for people carrying on lobbying activities (available here). These guidelines are available on www.lobbying.ie. The Standards Commission will be publishing further guidelines and advice bulletins in due course.
An Advisory Group composed of relevant experts and key stakeholders has been established to assist the Standards Commission in addressing key implementation issues arising from the establishment of a Register of Lobbying. The Advisory Group will be in a position to provide information and guidance that will assist in the smooth implementation of the legislation.
Persons wishing to be kept up to date on any developments regarding Regulation of Lobbying can follow the Standards Commission Twitter account @lobbyingIE or visit www.lobbying.ie.
Further information regarding the Regulation of Lobbying Act and the consultation process and policy proposals informing the Act are available on the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform website (“Regulation of Lobbying” section).