From 1 January 2017, any person or organisation which engaged in lobbying and who fails to comply with the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 (“the Act”) may be penalised and could face fines (ranging from €200 to €5,000) and/or imprisonment depending on the severity of the offence. Whilst the majority of the Act came into force in September 2015, the enforcement provisions did not come into immediate effect to allow greater time to generate awareness of the obligations under the Act.
Offences under the Act include:
- Failure to register with Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) if engaging in lobbying activities;
- Failure to make a lobbying return or submitting a late return;
- Providing SIPO with inaccurate or misleading information; and
- Failure to comply with an investigation.
What do you need to do by the next key date?
Lobbying returns for the period 1 September – 31 December 2016 must be submitted by 21 January 2017. If you submit a late return you may be liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to €2,500. Alternatively, SIPO have the option to issue an “on-the-spot-fine” by way of a fixed payment notice. SIPO has advised on their website that anyone who has registered as a lobbyist and is late in filing a return will be issued a fixed payment notice of €200. If payment is not paid within 21 days, the person may be prosecuted under the Act.
If you fail to register or submit any return for a relevant period, you may be investigated and prosecuted by SIPO.