Regulation of lobbyingGeneral
Is lobbying self-regulated by the industry, or is it regulated by the government, legislature or an independent regulator? What are the regulator’s powers?
Lobbying in Poland is regulated by statute. The Act on Lobbying Activities in the Legislative Process (the Lobbying Act) sets out the rules of transparency for lobbying activities in the legislative process, rules for the performance of professional lobbying activities and forms of control of lobbying activities. The Lobbying Act has also introduced rules for keeping a register of entities engaged in professional lobbying.
The Ministry of Interior has the power to impose a financial penalty, on the basis of an administrative decision, for performing activities falling within the scope of professional lobbying activities without having entered the register. The penalty may be imposed in the amount of 3,000 zlotys to 50,000 zlotys.
There is no guidance on lobbying. Apart from administrative liability, only activities prescribed in the Criminal Code (mainly bribery and influence peddling) are sanctioned.Definition
Is there a definition or other guidance as to what constitutes lobbying?
The Lobbying Act defines lobbying activity as any activity carried out by legally permitted methods aimed at influencing public authorities in the legislative process. This definition does not include activities affecting the application of law (issuing decisions, granting licences, permits, etc).
The Lobbying Act also defines professional lobbying activities as gainful lobbying activities carried out for third parties in order to include the interests of those persons in the legislative process. According to this definition, a professional lobbyist is a person performing activities qualified as lobbying, if he or she acts on behalf of and for third parties, and receives remuneration for the provided lobbying services. A professional lobbyist may be both a natural person and a legal person acting under a civil law contract.Registration and other disclosure
Is there voluntary or mandatory registration of lobbyists? How else is lobbying disclosed?
Professional lobbying activities can be performed after obtaining an obligatory entry in the register. An entity that performs activities that fall within the scope of professional lobbying activities that has not entered into the register is liable to a monetary penalty. Entry into the register is made on the basis of an application; it is not possible for the entity to register ex officio. The entry is made for an indefinite period. The registration of lobbyists is a form of control over lobbying activities, but it also provides for transparency. As of 6 November 2018, there are only 23 lobbyists acting in Sejm disclosed in the register. It is now a standard that lobbing activity is carried out not by professional lobbyists disclosed by register, but by, inter alia, chambers of commerce, trade associations and trade unions.Activities subject to disclosure or registration
What communications must be disclosed or registered?
The Lobbying Act introduces an obligation for public authorities to immediately disclose in the Public Information Bulletin information on actions taken against them by entities engaged in professional lobbying, along with an indication of the manner of settlement expected by these entities. Lobbyists and their clients are not subject to the disclosure obligation.
The Lobbying Act requires public authorities to regularly report on the activities of entities that carry out professional lobbying activities. The Lobbying Act does not specify any rules on reporting contact with professional lobbyists, documentation of the contact or rules of behaviour of officials towards professional lobbyists. The obligation to prepare such regulations is delegated. Heads of offices serving public authorities, each within the scope of their activity, determine the detailed manner of conduct of the office’s employees towards entities engaged in professional lobbying activities, and entities that are not considered to be engaged in professional lobbying, including documenting this contact. All ministries have adopted lobbying procedures, whereas such procedures at the local government level are rare.
The obligation to document contact refers only to meetings with professional lobbyists; it does not arise in case of a meeting, telephone conversation or other form of contact with occasional lobbyists.Entities and persons subject to lobbying rules
Which entities and persons are caught by the disclosure rules?
The disclosure rules, which oblige public authorities to report on lobbying activities, are applicable only to entities that carry out professional lobbying activities. Representation of third parties by legal advisers in the legislative process or their activities in the preparation of legislative proposals falls within the definition of professional lobbying activities.
Entities that do not conduct lobbying activities for third parties or do not receive remuneration for lobbying are not considered professional lobbyists. These entities are trade unions, employers’ organisations, churches and religious associations, associations and organisations of economic self-government and other non-governmental organisations. These organisations are not subject to disclosure rules in the register, however, their participation in public hearings or public consultations is disclosed.Lobbyist details
What information must be registered or otherwise disclosed regarding lobbyists and the entities and persons they act for ? Who has responsibility for registering the information?
An entity wishing to conduct professional lobbying activities should submit a notification of entry to the register with information required by the law. This information includes the name and registered address of the company or the individual lobbyist, whether they are registered as an entrepreneur or not. In the case of companies and entrepreneurs, the information must include a company registration number or a number from the register of entrepreneurs.
An entity engaged in professional lobbying is obliged to deliver to the public authority or an employee of the office serving a public authority a statement indicating the entities, for which it performs the activity.Content of reports
When must reports on lobbying activities be submitted , and what must they include?
Public authorities should regularly report on the activities of entities that carry out professional lobbying activities. Additionally, once a year, heads of offices servicing public authorities prepare information on actions taken against these bodies in the previous year by entities engaged in professional lobbying. This information should: identify cases in which professional lobbying was undertaken; identify entities that performed professional lobbying activities; determine the forms of professional lobbying activity undertaken, including whether it relied on supporting specific projects or opposing projects; and determine the impact of professional lobbying on the legislative process.Financing of the registration regime
How is the registration system funded?
The registration system is funded by registration fees. Entry in the register is made on the basis of an application and is subject to a registration fee of 100 zlotys.Public access to lobbying registers and reports
Is access to registry information and to reports available to the public?
The register of entities engaged in professional lobbying is kept by the Minister of the Interior. The register is fully public and the information contained in it is subject to disclosure in the Public Information Bulletin, which is a system of websites created for the purpose of making information publicly available.Code of conduct
Is there a code of conduct that applies to lobbyists and their practice?
Currently, there is no code of conduct applicable to lobbyists or their practice. The Association of Professional Lobbyists in Poland, which issued the Code of Conduct, is no longer active.Media
Are there restrictions in broadcast and press regulation that limit commercial interests’ ability to use the media to influence public policy outcomes?
Influence can be achieved through social campaigns classified as advertising (commercial communication).
Under the Press Law, a journalist must not conduct hidden advertising in order to achieve material or personal gains from a person or organisational unit interested in advertising.
With regard to television and radio, pursuant to the Broadcasting Act, the broadcaster enjoys full independence in determining the content of its programmes, and is liable for what is broadcast. Commercial communications should be easily recognisable, in particular, advertising should be readily distinguishable from editorial content. Thematic placement is prohibited.