The Lobbying Act 2015: First Reporting Period Set To Commence

Author:Ms Tara Doyle, Bríd Munnelly, Shay Lydon, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Grace, Joe Beashel, Liam Collins, Dualta Counihan, Aiden Kelly, Anne-Marie Bohan and Philip Lovegrove

The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 (the "Act") introduces new registration and disclosure obligations for those involved in lobbying activities in Ireland. It provides for an online lobbying register maintained by the Standards in Public Office Commission ("SIPO") which will be publicly accessible.

The commencement date of the first reporting period under the Act is 1 September 2015, with the deadline for making the first returns under the Act falling on 21 January 2016. In view of this, we have set out below some of the key information and questions which those who may need to register under the Act should be considering.

At Matheson, we have established a multi-disciplinary team led by our Regulatory Litigation Partner Bríd Munnelly together with our Asset Management Client Team Partners to specifically advise on the registration and lobbying disclosure obligations which may arise for our clients under the Act, and we would encourage you to get in touch with us in order to discuss the application of the Act to the specific circumstances that you may be currently considering.

Am I Lobbying?

Lobbying is defined as the making of a "relevant communication" which means any communication, written or oral, directly or indirectly made to a "designated public official" in relation to a "relevant matter". Relevant matter includes any matter relating to:

the initiation, development or modification of any public policy or public programme; or the preparation or amendment of an enactment; or the award of any grant, loan or financial support, contract or other agreement, or of any licence or other authorisation involving public funds. Relevant matter does not include any matter which relates only to the implementation of a policy, enactment, programme or award, or of a technical nature. In addition to this, a number of specific exemptions from the Act are provided for. These include communications requesting factual information or providing factual information in response to a request for information, and communications requested by a public service body and published by it.

Do I need to be a "Professional Lobbyist"?

No. It is worth noting that there is a strong focus in the legislation on relevant communications being made to the relevant persons as opposed to simply looking at whether someone is a "professional" lobbyist. In this regard, the Act not only includes in its scope those who are paid to make, manage or direct the making of a relevant...

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