Enforcement

Part 4 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 sets out enforcement provisions, which are effective from 1 January 2017. The provisions contained in Part 4 give the Standards Commission the authority to investigate and prosecute contraventions of the Act and to levy fixed payment notices for late filing of lobbying returns. 

  • Section 19 of the Act gives the Standards Commission the power to investigate possible contraventions.
  • Section 20 of the Act gives the Commission the authority to prosecute offences.
  • Section 21 of the Act allows the Commission to levy fixed payment notices for filing a late return.

Relevant contraventions

Section 18 of the Act sets out the following as "relevant contraventions" of the Act:

  • Carrying on lobbying activities without being registered;
  • Failing to make a return by the deadline;
  • Providing the Standards Commission with any information known to be inaccurate or misleading;
  • Failing to co-operate with an investigating officer who is investigating contraventions of the Act; and
  • Obstructing an investigation.

Investigations

The Standards Commission may authorise an investigation if it reasonably believes that a person may have committed or may be committing a relevant contravention.

Authorised officers may be appointed to carry out the investigation. They will have extensive powers to obtain necessary information and documents including the power to enter and search premises.

As a result of an investigation, the Commission may prosecute offences.

Prosecutions and Fines

Any relevant contravention listed above may be prosecuted by the Commission

  • If you are prosecuted in the District Court and found guilty (summary conviction), you may be fined up to €2,500 (this is known as a Class C fine).
  • If you are prosecuted in the Circuit Criminal Court and found guilty (conviction on indictment), you may be fined and imprisoned for up to two years. In both cases, you will also have to pay the Standards Commission’s investigation costs.
  • Submitting a late return (that is making a return after the prescribed deadline) is a contravention, which will result in a fixed payment notice being levied. The amount of the fixed payment is €200. If you pay the fixed payment within the time specified, no further action will be taken. Failure to pay the fixed payment notice may result in prosecution.