The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 (“the Act”) which came into effect on 01 September 2015, provides that certain people who are carrying on lobbying activities must register with the Standards in Public Office Commission (“the Commission”) and must provide information about their lobbying activities.
On 01 January 2017, Part 4 of the Act was commenced, meaning that anyone engaged in lobbying activities who fails to comply with their obligations under the Act could face monetary fines and/or imprisonment. In addition, Part 4 provides the Commission with the authority to investigate and prosecute contraventions of the Act and to levy fixed payment notices for late filing of lobbying returns.
Section 18 of the Act sets out a number of “relevant contraventions” to include failing to make a return, failing to co-operate with an investigating officer and obstructing an investigation. The Commission has the power to investigate persons they reasonably believe to have committed (or are committing) a relevant contravention, provided for under Section 18.
In light of the commencement of Part 4, the Commission has recently amended its guidelines for persons lobbying to include information about the enforcement provisions. It is the responsibility of those carrying on lobbying activities to familiarise themselves with the guidelines issued by the Commission to ensure that they are compliant.
The guidelines can be accessed here.