Cooling – off period: Restrictions on post-term employment as lobbyist

The Act provides that certain DPOs are restricted from being engaged in lobbying in certain circumstances for a year after they leave their employment or office unless they get permission from the Standards Commission – in effect, they are subject to a “cooling-off” period.


The DPOs concerned are Ministers and Ministers of State, special advisers and prescribed public servants. We refer to these persons as “relevant DPOs.


Others who are DPOs for the purposes of the lobbying registration requirements are not covered by this provision, that is, TDs, Senators MEPs and Local Authority members.


Relevant DPOs who are covered by this provision may not:


  • Carry on lobbying activities in certain circumstances or
  • Be employed by, or provide services to, a person carrying on lobbying activities in certain circumstances.


These circumstances are where the lobbying activity:


  • Involves any public service body with which the relevant DPO was connected, that is, employed or held an office or other position in the year prior to the relevant DPOs leaving, or
  • Is to a person who was also a DPO connected with that public service body in the year prior to the relevant DPO’s leaving.


A relevant DPO may apply to the Standards Commission for consent to engage in such lobbying. The Standards Commission may decide to give consent unconditionally or give consent with conditions attached.  The Standards Commission may also refuse to give consent for all or part of the cooling-off period.


A relevant DPO who is unhappy with the decision may appeal.


The Standards Commission has published additional guidance for the benefit of any persons seeking to apply to waive or reduce their cooling-off period.

 Guidance note on section 22 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015