Are you affected by the legislation?

You are if you meet all of the following conditions:

  1. You are carrying on lobbying activities.
  2. The person being lobbied is a Designated Public Official.
  3. You are making a relevant communication.
  4. That communication is about a relevant matter.
  5. That communication is not an excepted communication.

 

What must you do?

The Act came into effect on 1 September 2015.

 

The first registration period was 1 September 2015 – 31 December 2015. If you are carried on lobbying activities during that period you had to register on www.lobbying.ie by 21 January 2016 at the latest. You also had to make a return by 21 January 2016 setting out the required details of your lobbying activities in the period 1 September 2015 - 31 December 2015. Once you are registered, you must continue to make returns in respect of each subsequent four month period (that is, 1 January - 30 April; 1 May - 31 August; 1 September to 31 December), including nil returns for any period in which you do not lobby.

 

A       Who is carrying on lobbying activities?

The Act lists the conditions which apply if you are considered to be carrying on lobbying activities and, therefore, are obliged to register as a lobbyist.

 

You may be carrying on lobbying activities if:

1.            You are a professional lobbyist: You are paid to make, manage or direct the making of a relevant communication on behalf of another person and other conditions are met.

2.            You lobby on behalf of yourself or your business or organisation: You make, manage or direct the making of a relevant communication and certain circumstances apply.

3.            You lobby about development or zoning of land: You make a relevant communication about the development or zoning of land.

 

****

1.            Professional lobbying: communications on behalf of a client

 

You are carrying on lobbying activities if:

  • You make, manage or direct the making of a relevant communication on behalf of a client

And

  • You get paid for making, managing or directing this communication (the payment can be in money or money’s worth)

 

And any of the following applies to your client:

  • Your client has more than 10 full-time employees and the relevant communications are made on the client’s behalf (this means any individual, company, partnership or organisation which employs more than 10 people),
  • Your client is a representative body (that is, a body that exists primarily to represent the interests of its members) which has one or more full-time employees and the relevant communications are made on behalf of any of the members, (for example, a trade union, professional body, industry association or sporting body. Organisations which are composed entirely of volunteers are not included but, if they employ a person full time, they would then be included) or
  • Your client is an advocacy body (that is, a body which exists primarily to take up particular issues) which has one or more full-time employees and the relevant communications are concerned with any of these issues (for example, organisations promoting human rights issues or campaigning for homeless people. Organisations which are composed entirely of volunteers are not included but, if they employ a person full time, they would then be included) or
  • Your client has asked you to communicate about the zoning or development of land which is not the client’s principal private residence.

 

 

2.       Communications on behalf of yourself or your business/organisation

You are carrying on lobbying activities if:

  • You make, manage or direct the making of a relevant communication

 

And

  • Any of the following applies to you:

o   You have more than 10 full-time employees and the relevant communications are made on your behalf;

o   You are a representative body (that is, a body that exists primarily to represent the interests of its members) which has one or more full-time employees and the relevant communications are made on behalf of any of the members, (for example, a trade union, professional body, industry association or sporting body. Organisations which are composed entirely of volunteers are not included but, if they employ a person full time, they would then be included)

or

o   You are an advocacy body (that is, a body which exists primarily to take up particular issues) which has one or more full-time employees and the relevant communications are concerned with any of these issues (for example, organisations promoting human rights issues or campaigning for homeless people. Organisations which are composed entirely of volunteers are not included but, if they employ a person full time, they would then be included)

 

In the case of representative bodies and advocacy bodies, the relevant communication must be made by an employee of the body or by a person who holds a paid office (for example, the chairman) in the body whose functions relate to the affairs of the body as a whole and where the communication is made in his/her capacity as such. (This means that, in general, communications made by unpaid volunteers are not considered to be lobbying. Office holders such as chairmen and secretaries may be unpaid volunteers. If they are, communications made by them do not generally constitute carrying on lobbying activities. However, a relevant communication may be direct or indirect so, if the communication is made by an unpaid volunteer on the direction of an employee or paid office holder, it is lobbying and must be included in the organisation’s return.)

3.     Communications about the development or zoning of land

You are carrying on lobbying activities if you make a relevant communication about the development or zoning of land.

 

Detailed guidelines on lobbying in relation to development and zoning of land are available at www.lobbying.ie.

 

NOTE: Not all communication is lobbying.

 

It is worth noting that not all communication is considered lobbying for the purposes of the Act. A number of exemptions exist, and a communication must meet the above criteria to be considered lobbying. In particular, a significant amount of constituency clinic communications will be exempt where the matter relates to an individual’s private affairs or is communications by a micro-business with less than 10 employees. More information on what is considered a relevant matter follows.

 

It is also worth noting that not all lobbying takes place in a formal setting or using formal means. While a great deal of lobbying may take place via in-person meetings, telephone calls or emails, lobbying can also take place in less formal ways. These include casual encounters, social gatherings, or even social media. If the communication meets the above criteria, it is considered lobbying and must be recorded.

 

B       Who is being lobbied: Designated Public Officials

Designated Public Officials (DPOs) under the Act are:

  • Ministers and Ministers of State;
  • TDs and Senators;
  • MEPs for Irish constituencies;
  • Members of local authorities;
  • Special Advisers to Ministers and Ministers of State who have been appointed under section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997;
  • Public Servants as prescribed;
  • Other categories of persons as prescribed.

In relation to the Civil Service the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has made regulations which provide details of the positions which are prescribed as DPOs for the purposes of the Act A public servant in a position of Secretary General, Second Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Assistant Secretary or Director in a public service body specified in Schedule I of the Regulations is prescribed as a Designated Public Official.

A public servant in a position specified in Schedule 2 of the Regulations is also prescribed as a Designated Public Official.

In relation to local authorities, the Regulations provide that persons in the following positions in local authorities are prescribed as Designated Public Officials:

  • Chief Executives and equivalent grades
  • Assistant Chief Executive (Dublin City Council only)
  • Directors of Services
  • Heads of Finance
  • Head of Human Resources (Dublin City Council only)

Full details of the positions above prescribed in the Regulations are available on our website www.lobbying.ie. The list of positions prescribed as Designated Public Officials may be extended by Ministerial Order to other categories over time.

 

Public bodies are obliged to publish the names of their employees who are Designated Public Officials and a brief description of their roles and responsibilities for the purposes of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015. This information will be made available on the websites of the relevant public bodies. It is important to note that not all public bodies have Designated Public Officials.

 

 

C       What is a relevant communication?

A relevant communication is a communication that

  • May be written or oral
  • Is made personally (directly or indirectly)
  • Is made to a Designated Public Official
  • Relates to a relevant matter
  • Is not an excepted communication

 

D       What is a relevant matter?

A relevant matter is any matter relating to

  • The initiation, development or modification of any public policy or of any public programme (for example, proposals for changes in taxation, proposals for changes in agricultural policy, proposals for changing entitlement to health services)
  • The preparation or amendment of any law (including secondary legislation such as statutory instruments and bye-laws) (for example, proposals to change the law on adoption, proposals to change bye-laws relating to traffic)
  • The award of any grant, loan or other financial support, contract or other agreement, or of any licence or other authorisation involving public funds (for example, the criteria for the award of housing grants for people with disabilities, the purchase or sale of a property or other assets by the government.)

 

APART FROM the implementation of any such policy, programme, enactment or award or any matter of a technical nature. (For example, communications relating to the development of criteria for schemes of housing grants, development of criteria for selecting builders to build schools or development of criteria for the awarding of a licence to provide transport on a specific route would be regarded as lobbying activity. The implementation of those grant schemes (the assessment of whether or not an individual would qualify) or licence competitions, or the implementation of tender processes through e-tenders would be regarded as implementation matters)

 

E        What is an excepted communication?

The following are “excepted communications” and, therefore, are not regarded as lobbying (they are not relevant communications):

  • Private affairs: Communications by or on behalf of an individual relating to his or her private affairs unless they relate to the development or zoning of any land (for example, communications in relation to your eligibility for, or entitlement to, a social welfare payment, a local authority house, or a medical card are not relevant communications). Detailed guidelines on lobbying in relation to development and zoning of land are available at www.lobbying.ie;
  • Diplomatic relations: Communications by or on behalf of a foreign country or territory, the European Union, the United Nations or any other international intergovernmental organisation;
  • Factual information: Communications requesting factual information or providing factual information in response to a request for the information (for example, a company asking a public servant how to qualify for an enterprise grant and getting an answer; a person asking about the rules in relation to planning and getting an answer; factual information provided to a government department by a representative body in response to a request from the department);
  • Published submissions: Communications requested by a public service body and published by it (for example, submissions received in response to a public consultation process which are subsequently published by the public body.)
  • Trade union negotiations: Communications forming part of, or directly related to, negotiations on terms and conditions of employment undertaken by representatives of a trade union on behalf of its members;
  • Safety and security: Communications the disclosure of which could pose a threat to the safety of any person or to the security of the State;
  • Oireachtas committees: Communications which are made in proceedings of a committee of either House of the Oireachtas;
  • Communications by Designated Public Officials or public servants: Communications by a Designated Public Official in his or her capacity as such; communications by public servants (or those engaged on contract by a public service body) made in that capacity and relating to the functions of the public service body. Public servants are employed by or hold office in public service bodies - in general, these are State bodies other than commercial State bodies. (for example, communications by county councillors to local authority managers or other public servants does not constitute lobbying.)
  • Governance of commercial State bodies: Communications by or on behalf of a commercial State body made to a Minister of the Government who holds shares in, or has statutory functions in relation to, the body, or to Designated Public Officials serving in the Minister’s department, in the ordinary course of the business of the body (for example, certain communications involving Bus Éireann and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport)


Policy working groups: Communications between members of a relevant body appointed by a Minister, or by a public service body, for the purpose of reviewing, assessing or analysing any issue of public policy with a view to reporting to the Minister or public service body on it. A relevant body is one whose members are appointed by a Minister or by a public service body and the members include one or more Designated Public Officials and one or more who are not public servants nor engaged for the purposes of a public service body. This exemption applies if the relevant body conducts its activities in accordance with the Transparency Code (for example, expert groups, working groups, review groups or commissions whose members include designated public servants and some non-public servants established to examine and report on specific issues). The Transparency Code is available at https://www.lobbying.ie/help-resources/information-for-public-bodies/transparency-code/.