The Standards Commission is responsible for establishing and maintaining the Register of Lobbying (the Register). The Register is available online to members of the public at www.lobbying.ie and is free of charge.
The Register contains:
You are prohibited from carrying on lobbying activities unless you are registered on the Register. This prohibition does not apply to the first relevant period during which you carry out lobbying activities. The Act provides that you can register after you have commenced lobbying. Under the Act a person undertaking lobbying activities is required to register and submit a return of lobbying activity within 21 days of the end of the first “relevant period” in which they begin lobbying. The relevant period is the four months ending on the last day of April, August and December each year. For example, if someone lobbies for the first time during the month of October, that activity has taken place within the relevant period of 1 September – 31 December. The person would be required to register and submit their first returns by 21 January, 21 days after the end of the relevant period. There is no requirement, therefore, to register until after a person has actually commenced lobbying.
Once you are obliged to be registered, however, it is a relevant contravention of the Act and an offence to carry on lobbying activities without being registered.
The requirement to register applies equally to companies, sole traders, partnerships, representative bodies, advocacy bodies and individuals who are within scope of the Act. The legal structure is not relevant. Individual citizens will most likely only be required to register if they are carrying on lobbying activities in a private capacity in relation to the development or zoning of land which is not their principal private residence.
Where an employee of a company is directed by the company to carry on lobbying activities on behalf of a company, it is the company and not the employee that is required to register and submit a return of the lobbying activities.
There is no fee involved in registering.
In order to be registered, the person registering must first create an account on www.lobbying.ie. The person must then complete an online Application to Register and provide the Standards Commission with the information set out below.
In relation to the contact information above which must be provided the following should be noted:
In addition to the above information, which must be provided, you must also state that the information contained in your registration details is correct.
When you provide the above information and the statement, you become a registered person and the information you have provided will be immediately available on the Register. The Standards Commission will review your registration. If it considers that you may not have been required to register, it will contact you to clarify why you have registered.
If you have registered and you subsequently cease carrying on lobbying activities you may ask the Standards Commission to note that fact in your entry on the Register. You must verify that this has been done in order to end the obligation to make returns.
As a registered person, you are required to make returns to the Standards Commission within 21 days of the end of each relevant period. The relevant period is the four month period, ending on the last day of April, August and December each year. If you have not carried out any lobbying activities in the relevant period you must submit a nil return. It is a contravention of the Act and an offence to fail to make a return of lobbying activities (including a nil return if required).
The requirement to make returns (including nil returns) does not apply to you if your entry on the Register notes that you have ceased lobbying.
If you have carried on lobbying activities in the relevant period, your return must state:
When you provide the above information your return of lobbying activities will be immediately available on the Register. The Standards Commission has published guidance on submitting a return of lobbying activities, including a sample return and tips to avoid making common errors.
If you are lobbying on behalf of a client or other person in return for payment, you must register and submit a return of the lobbying activities carried out on behalf of the client/other person. If the client/other person engages in additional or separate lobbying activities, the client/other person must also register and submit a return in respect of the additional or separate lobbying activities.
You must also provide the following information about a client/other person on your return of lobbying activities:
The Standards Commission may ask for further information in relation to an Application to register as a lobbyist and/or a return of lobbying activity submitted if it considers that:
You will be given 21 days in which to provide the necessary further or corrected information.
If you fail to do so, the Standards Commission will remove from the Register the information provided in your registration or your return. You will be told the reason for the removal of the information.
The Standards Commission may immediately remove information from the Register if it considers that any information contained in registration details or in a return of lobbying activities is sufficiently inaccurate or misleading to warrant immediate removal from the Register.
If the Standards Commission removes information provided by you from the Register, you will be treated as not having registered or made a relevant return as the case may be unless and until corrected information is provided. In that regard you may be regarded as having contravened the Act and committed an offence.
You may apply to the Standards Commission to delay the publication of certain information contained in your registration details or your returns. You may do this if you give information at registration or in a return and you consider that making it publicly available could reasonably be expected to:
Applications to delay publication must be made through the online register. A decision on your application to delay publication must be made within 21 days. Where the reasons cited for delayed publication are those at paragraph A above, the Standards Commission must first consult with the relevant Minister(s) before making its decision on your application.
If the Standards Commission considers that making the information publicly available could reasonably be expected to have the consequences you suggest, it may make a determination:
The Standards Commission may make such a determination if it considers that the public interest would be better served by approving the request. Such a determination may apply for a specified period of not more than six months or until it is revoked, whichever happens first. You may apply to renew the delayed publication if needed, as often as necessary, but for no more than 6 months at a time.
While a determination is in force, the Freedom of Information Acts do not apply to a record relating to any information which is the subject of a determination.
The Standards Commission will provide copies of the determination to you and to any Ministers who were consulted.
If your application for delayed publication is rejected in whole or in part, the Standards Commission will give you reasons.
If approved, the Standards Commission may review its determination at any time and may decide to revoke its determination if it appears that the public interest would be better served by making the information publicly available immediately than by delaying it. If this occurs, you and the relevant Ministers consulted will be informed.
If information is published in summary form, this will be stated on the Register.
When delayed publication has occurred or where information was published only in summary form and publication or full publication occurs, the Standards Commission will publish on the Register an explanation for why the publication was delayed or the information summarised.
Any person who is unhappy with any decision made by the Standards Commission in relation to delayed publication may appeal.
The Standards Commission will not make information which was delayed or summarised publicly available until 14 days after its decision to do so. This is to allow for the making of an appeal. If you appeal, publication will not occur until the appeal process is complete or the appeal is withdrawn.
The Act allows for the collection and publication of certain personal data, to enhance the transparency of the Register. This may include a registrant’s name and contact details. A person may request to have his/her personal data which is contained in an Application to Register or in Client Details on a return of lobbying activities excluded from the information which is publicly available on the Register. The Standards Commission will exclude the information if it considers it necessary in order:
Personal data is defined in the data protection legislation as data relating to a living individual who is or can be identified either from the data or from the data in conjunction with other information. For more information, see www.dataprotection.ie. The Standards Commission has published a guidance note regarding requests to exclude personal data. It has also published a privacy notice regarding the personal data which is held by the Standards Commission in respect of its statutory functions under the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.
If you consider that there is information about you on the Register which is inaccurate, out of date or misleading, (for example as a person carrying on lobbying activities, a person being lobbied or a client included on another person’s return of lobbying activities) you may provide evidence of this to the Standards Commission. If the Standards Commission considers that the information is inaccurate, out of date or misleading, it may amend or delete the information as appropriate.
If the Standards Commission does not consider the information to be inaccurate, misleading or out of date, it must notify you of this and give you reasons for its decision. If you are unhappy with the Standards Commission decision in relation to amending or deleting information relating to you, you may appeal.
If a person considers that information contained on the Register, which does not relate to them, is inaccurate, out of date or misleading, the person may provide evidence of this to the Standards Commission. If the Standards Commission considers that the information is inaccurate, out of date or misleading, it may amend or delete the information as appropriate. A person cannot, however, appeal the Standards Commission’s decision if the information does not relate to them.