The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 comes into effect today, Tuesday 1 September 2015. Here is a brief analysis of the key issues.

Who is affected by the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015?

Anyone who is lobbying, ie

  • An employer (with more than ten employees) where the communications are made on its behalf
  • A representative body (with at least one employee) communicating on behalf of its members and the communication is made by a paid employee or office holder of the body
  • An advocacy body (with at least one employee) that exists primarily to take up particular issues and a paid employee or office holder of the body is communicating on such issues
  • Any person communicating about the development or zoning of land (other than an individual's principal private residence)
  • A professional lobbyist being paid to communicate on behalf of a client, where the client satisfies the above criteria

What is lobbying?

Lobbying is defined as the making of a “relevant communication”, which means any communication, written or oral, directly or indirectly made to a designated public official ("DPO") in relation to a “relevant matter”.

What is a DPO?

Designated Public Officials include

  • Ministers of the Government
  • Ministers of State
  • Other members of Dáil Éireann & Seanad Éireann
  • MEPs for three constituencies in Ireland
  • Members of Local Authorities
  • Special advisers
  • Secretaries-General (and assistant SGs) of Government departments
  • CEOs and Directors of Services in Local Authorities
  • Senior officers in other prescribed public bodies

What is a relevant matter?

Any matter relating to

  • Public policy - initiation / development / modification
  • Enactment - preparation / amendment
  • Public Funds - award of any grant, loan or financial support, contract or other agreement, or of any licence or other authorisation involving public funds
  • Developing / zoning of land - other than principal private residence

When do I have to send in my return? 

If engaging in lobbying activities between 1 September and 31 December 2015, you must register and submit your first return by 21 January 2016.

What do I have to do if I am lobbying?

Register and file returns three times a year on the Register of Lobbying website (to be run by the Standards in Public Office Commission).