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 Taiwan is regulated by the Lobbying Act. According to the Act, lobbyists must, before lobbying, register with the government agency with which the lobbied party is affiliated through application on a case-by-case basis. The lobbied party may include the president, vice president, legislators of representative bodies at various levels, the chiefs and deputy chiefs of special municipalities, counties, cities or townships, and others specified by law. In addition to filing an application for registration before commencing any lobbying efforts, lobbyists must prepare financial statements for funding spent on lobbying and file a report to the lobbied government agency by 31 May of each year, and when managing the termination of their registrations.
While the Ministry of the Interior is designated as the authority for the Lobbying Act, each government agency to which a lobbied party is affiliated has the power, and is also obligated, to decline a registration application for lobbying and may refuse lobbying in the event that the activity is restricted by the Lobbying Act. Such restrictions cover lobbying aimed at formulation, enactment, modification or annulment of laws, government policies, or legislation by persons who do not have any involvement with the subject of the lobbying, except for individuals or for-profit corporations designated for lobbying. Additionally, if the lobbying, by its nature, is permitted by law but is not legally registered, the lobbied party must refuse the lobbying efforts. In the event that the lobbied party is unable to refuse the lobbying efforts in a timely manner, the lobbied party or its affiliated government agency shall notify the lobbyist to file for registration within a certain period of time.
Additionally, to avoid conflicts of interest from within the legislative body, according to the Lobbying Act, legislators of representative bodies at the various levels cannot lobby for an enterprise operated by themselves or parties related to them, or in which their total invested shares exceed 10 per cent, and they shall not commission other lobbyists to engage in lobbying efforts on their behalf.
According to the authorisation conferred by the Lobbying Act, the Ministry of the Interior may issue guidance on lobbying. The Ministry has issued the Enforcement Rules for the Lobbying Act, the format of registration application, and has determined the enforcement rules and charges for browsing, transcribing, photocopying or photographing lobbyists’ registration and financial statements, which should be available to the public pursuant to Lobbying Act. The Ministry has also published guidance and frequently asked questions regarding the Lobbying Act.
In the event of a violation of the Lobbying Act, the regulators may penalise violators by imposing a fine ranging from NT$50,000 to NT$2.5 million, or if the proceeds or compensation of the lobbyist exceeds the highest amount of the penalty set forth, fines may be increased to the extent of the lobbyist’s proceeds or compensation. In the event of a material violation owing to intentionally inconsistent registration content with actual lobbying or because of a failure to file financial statements or to deliberately providing fraudulent content in financial statements, the lobbied government agency may refuse the registration of said lobbyist for a period of one year.
Generally, the lobbied government agency investigates any breach of the Lobbying Act, provides sufficient evidence for penalties regulated by the Act, and submits the evidence to the Control Yuan, which is an investigatory agency that monitors the other branches of government, or to the Ministry of the Interior, depending on the professional capacity of the violator, for imposition of punishment. Notwithstanding the above, the Control Yuan and competent authority may also voluntarily conduct an investigation to impose the punishment under the Lobbying Act.Definition
Is there a definition or other guidance as to what constitutes lobbying?
Under the Lobbying Act, lobbying is defined as the actions of a lobbyist that aim to influence a lobbied party or its agency regarding the formulation, enactment, modification or annulment of laws, government policies, or legislation by any oral or written communication conveyed directly to the lobbied party or its designee.Registration and other disclosure
Is there voluntary or mandatory registration of lobbyists? How else is lobbying disclosed?
There is a mandatory registration requirement for lobbyists. As stated in question 6, the Lobbying Act requires lobbyists to file registration applications to the government agency to which the lobbied party is affiliated before conducting any lobbying activities. Additionally, in the event of any change of the particulars of the registration, lobbyists must file for modification of their registration within five days from the date of the change. The termination registration must also be filed within 10 days from termination of the lobbying activities. The primary purpose of these requirements is to ensure an open and transparent procedure for lobbying, and the participation of democratic politics, as well as to prevent the transfer of inappropriate interests. Moreover, as stated previously, lobbyists must file financial statements to the lobbied government agency by 31 May of each year, and when managing their termination registrations.
In addition to the above-mentioned registrations and financial statements filed by the lobbyists, the lobbied person or entity must also inform the government agency’s responsible unit or individual of the name of the lobbyist, the date and time of the lobbying, the place and method of lobbying, and the content of the lobbying for registration within seven days after being targeted.Activities subject to disclosure or registration
What communications must be disclosed or registered?
According to the Lobbying Act, regardless of whether it is oral or written, all communication must be registered by the lobbied person, including details of the lobbyist, the date and time of the lobbying, the place and method of the lobbying and the content of the lobbying efforts within seven days of the lobbied person being targeted. The lobbied government agency must retain this registration for five years (there are no exceptions). Communication with officials of both the legislature and the executive are covered by this registration rule. The lobbied government entity must publicise the registration on the internet or in governmental notices or other publications, on a quarterly basis. However, a registration may be exempted from publication in the event that it concerns items for which publication is prohibited in accordance with other laws.Entities and persons subject to lobbying rules
Which entities and persons are caught by the disclosure rules?
All entities and persons are covered by the disclosure rules. There is no distinction between entities and persons that lobby on behalf of themselves and those who lobby for third parties. Non-profit entities are not exempted from the disclosure rules. Additionally, there are no thresholds for registration - no matter how much time is spent on lobbying, how many contacts, or what fees are earned or funds expended for lobbying activities, registration is required for the lobbying. Licensed lawyers cannot be exempted from such disclosure requirements when representing clients.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?
As stated in question 6, lobbyists are responsible for filing registration applications for lobbying before they begin their activities and must file financial statements yearly and when managing their termination registrations. Additionally, the lobbied person shall inform the responsible unit or person of the lobbied government agency, with which he or she is affiliated, of the lobbying details to be recorded within seven days of being lobbied.
The registration application filed by a lobbyist must include certain information. If the lobbyist is an individual, it must include:
- the purpose and content of the intended lobbying;
- the name and title of the lobbied person;
- the duration of the lobbying activities;
- the estimated expenditure for the lobbying;
- an explanation of the lobbyist’s relationship with the formulation, enactment, modification or annulment of laws, government policies or legislation that he or she intends to influence, and documents for proof; and
- the lobbyist’s name, date of birth, residence address, ID number, telephone number or other contact information.
If the lobbyist is a legal person or organisation, the information in points (i)-(v) must be included, along with:
- the lobbyist’s name;
- the lobbyist’s registration or permit or filing certificate;
- the lobbyist’s principal location; and
- the name, date of birth, residence address, ID number, telephone number or other contact information of its representative or chairman and the lobbying representatives.
For designated lobbyists, in addition to the above items, the registration should also include evidence of designation, agreed compensation, information sufficient to identify the designator, and, where the designated lobbyist is an individual, the certificate of qualification in the professional and technical special examination, and practising certificate number, or, where the designated lobbyist is a legal person or organisation, the articles of incorporation.
The financial statement must list the revenue, including service revenue and other revenue, the expenditure, including on personnel, operations, promotion or advertising, public relations, transportation and travel, as well as miscellaneous expenditure, and other items designated by the Ministry of the Interior.
Registrations made by the lobbied government agency after receiving notification by the lobbied party must include the name of the lobbyist, and the date and time, place and method, and content of the lobbying.Content of reports
When must reports on lobbying activities be submitted , and what must they include?
See question 11.Financing of the registration regime
How is the registration system funded?
The registration system depends on public funding. However, if a person wishes to view or photocopy the registration and financial statements filed by the lobbyist or the registration recorded by the lobbied government agency, he or she must pay for the hours spent viewing the documents or be charged for the photocopying costs.Public access to lobbying registers and reports
Is access to registry information and to reports available to the public?
Access to registry information and to reports is available to the public. The lobbied government agency must retain the registration and financial statements filed by lobbyists as well as the registration reports of the lobbied government agency’s responsible unit or individual for five years, and must publish these on the internet or in a governmental notice or other publication, on a quarterly basis. The Ministry of the Interior also publishes statistical data every month on its website. However, this is not applicable to registration items prohibited from publication in accordance with other laws.Code of conduct
Is there a code of conduct that applies to lobbyists and their practice?
The main regulation in Taiwan relevant to lobbyists is the Lobbying Act. There are several enforcement rules enacted by the Ministry of the Interior that supplement the Lobbying Act. However, there is no specific code of conduct promulgated by the government or any professional association that directly relates to lobbying.Media
Are there restrictions in broadcast and press regulation that limit commercial interests’ ability to use the media to influence public policy outcomes?
Generally, there is no such restriction. However, the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act specifically forbids any tobacco promotion, donations, and advertising using broadcast and other media, and the internet. The Tobacco and Alcohol Administration Act imposes restrictions on alcohol promotion methods, which, as a consequence, may be regarded as restrictions that indirectly limit commercial interests’ ability to use the media to influence public policy.