The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015, recently passed by the Irish Parliament, is due to commence on 1 September 2015. The Act introduces new registration and disclosure requirements for those carrying out lobbying activities. This will impact the conduct of any communications between a lobbyist and a designated public official.
Lobbying is broadly defined under the Act as the making of a “relevant communication” by a lobbyist to a designated public official. Lobbyists include any company with more than ten full-time employees and industry representatives with more than one full-time employee, as well as those who lobby on behalf of such bodies. A relevant communication is any communication, written or oral, made to a designated public official that relates to the initiation, development or modification of legislation, public policy, or the award of public funds. “Designated public officials” include Government Ministers and Ministers of State, members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, special advisers, and senior public servants in certain listed public bodies, which it is anticipated will include the Department of Health.
All lobbyists must register their relevant company details within 21 days of the end of the first reporting period in which they carry out lobbying activities, or they will be guilty of an offence. Once registered, lobbyists must continue to submit returns, detailing their communications with designated public officials. The information to be included in a return includes the designated public official to whom the communications were made, the subject matter of the communications, and the results they were intended to secure. This information will be freely available to the public, and therefore all returns should be thoroughly reviewed before submission.
Pre-registration is open on www.lobbying.ie until 31 August 2015. Pre-registration offers an opportunity to become accustomed to the Register and the filing of returns before the Regulation of Lobbying Act commences in September.