Register of Lobbying

The Standards Commission is responsible for establishing and maintaining the Register of Lobbying (the Register. The Registeris available online to members of the public at www.lobbying.ie and is free of charge.

 

The Register contains:

  • The registration details provided to the Standards Commission by each registered person on their Application to Register and
  • The information contained in the returns of lobbying activities made by each registered person.

 

Requirement to register

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.

 

Information which must be provided when registering

In order to be registered, the person registering must first create an account onwww.lobbying.ie.  The person must then complete an online Application to Register and provide the Standards Commission with the information set out below. 

 

  • The name of the person, company or organisation which has carried out the lobbying activities.  If you have carried out a lobbying activity in a personal capacity (as opposed to on behalf of a company or organisation) i.e. in relation to zoning and development, then you register in your own name as an individual.  Otherwise, the registration should be in the name of the company/organisation. If your legal name differs from the name that the business is most commonly known as, we recommend that registrants register under the legal name but include a reference to the most commonly known identity. For example: 12345 Ireland Ltd (trading as LobbyGroup)
  • The address (or principal address) at which the person carries on business or (if there is no such address) the address at which the person normally lives.
  • The business or main day to day activities of the organisation
  • Any e-mail address, telephone number or website address relating to the person’s business or main activities
  • Any registration number issued to the organisation by the Companies Registration Office, and if a company, provide details of the registered office of the company.

 

In relation to the contact information above which must be provided the following should be noted:

 

  • Where an organisation is registering the contact information provided should be that which relates to the organisation.
  • If you are registering on behalf of your business, you should provide your business name and contact details and not your personal details.
  • An individual registering in relation to lobbying activities carried out in a private capacity must provide their business contact details (if they have business contact details).
  • A person should only provide their personal contact details if there are no business contact details which can be provided. 

 

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 permanently 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.

 

Requirement 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 permanently ceased lobbying.

 

Information which must be included in your return of lobbying activities

If you have carried on lobbying activities in the relevant period, your return must state:

  • The DPOs and the relevant public service bodies who were lobbied.
  • The subject matter of the lobbying and the results it was intended to secure.  A separate return is required for each different subject matter for which lobbying took place during the relevant period.  It is important that the intended result be meaningful. Terms such as “raising awareness”, “providing clarification”, “providing information” etc. are not sufficient.  It must be clear what it is you were trying to achieve from the lobbying activity(ies).  (For example, if you were lobbying on the issue of accident and emergency services and you were aiming to have such services provided in a particular hospital then your return of lobbying activities should provide this level of detail).  Where the lobbying activity concerns zoning and development, the subject matter must provide details of the particular lands/development, and the intended results must be specific as to the desired outcome.
  • The type and extent of the lobbying activities carried on.  The online return form on www.lobbying.iewill provide “drop down” options to assist you in identifying the type and extent of activity appropriate to your return.  It is not necessary to complete a separate return in respect of each lobbying activity on the same subject matter.  All lobbying activities related to the same subject matter during the relevant period must be accounted for on a single return relating to that subject matter.
  • The name of the individual in your organisation who had primary responsibility for carrying on the lobbying activities. Others within your organisation may be involved in lobbying but the person listed here should be the one who is primarily responsible.  If you wish to identify other persons who lobbied on the subject, you may enter their names in the free text field for “Additional Information”.
  • If you were lobbying on behalf of a client or other person in return for payment you must provide certain information (see next section about the client/other person.
  • The name of each person who is or ever has been (whether before or after the passing of the Act) a DPO and who is employed by, or providing services to you and who was involved in carrying on the lobbying activities for which the return is being made (for example, if you are employing a former TD, special advisor or senior public servant or you have a contract for services with such a person and that person was involved in carrying on the lobbying activities)
  • You must confirm that your registration details are still correct.  If they have changed you must amend your registration details.
  • You must confirm that the information contained in the return is correct.

 

When you provide the above information your return of lobbying activities will be immediately available on the Register.  The Standards Commission has publishedguidance on submitting a return of lobbying activities, including a sample return and tips to avoid making common errors.

 

Relevant information about a client

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 client’s/other person’s name
  • The address (or principal address) at which the client/other person carries on business or (if there is no such address) the address at which the client/other person normally lives
  • The client’s/other person’s business or main activities,
  • Any e-mail address, telephone number or website address relating to the client’s/other person’s business or main activities,
  • Any registration number issued to the client/other person by the Companies Registration Office, and if the client is a company, details of their registered office.

 

Requirement for further or corrected information

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:

 

  • The information provided in the application or returns is inaccurate or misleading

or

  • Further information is required to ensure that the application or return complies with the legislation

 

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.

 

 

 

Delayed publication

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:

 

  1. Have a serious adverse effect on the financial interests of the State, the national economy, or business interests generally or the business interests of any particular set of people or
  2. Cause a material financial loss to the person to whom the information relates or prejudice seriously the competitive position of that person in the conduct of the person’s occupation, profession or business or the outcome of any contractual or other negotiations being conducted by that person

 

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:

 

  • To exclude some or all of this information from immediate publication
  • To make some or all of the information available only in summary form

 

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.

 

Other Content which may be excluded from the Register

Personal data

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:

 

  • To prevent the information being misused or
  • To protect the safety of any person or
  • To protect the security of the State.

 

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 publisheda guidance note regarding requests to exclude personal data.  It has also publisheda privacy noticeregarding the personal data which is held by the Standards Commission in respect of its statutory functions under the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

 

Inaccurate, out of date or misleading information

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.