As of 1 January 2017 the enforcement provisions provided for in Part 4 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 (the "Act") will come into effect, meaning anyone engaged in lobbying activities who fails to comply with their obligations under the Act may face monetary fines and/or imprisonment from that date.
Under the Act anyone who engages in lobbying activities is required to register with the Standards in Public Office Commission ("SIPO") and to file quarterly returns to include information on lobbying activities carried out. The next lobbying returns are due to be submitted by 21 January 2017. If you have registered with SIPO but fail to submit your return on time you will automatically be issued with a fixed penalty notice of €200.
It is important to be aware that once you are registered, even if you have not engaged in lobbying activities in a particular return period, you must still submit a nil return. A person who has registered with SIPO but fails to submit a nil return will similarly be issued with a fixed penalty notice of €200.
Part 4 of the Act also gives SIPO the power to investigate and prosecute anyone who fails to register or to submit a return. Sanctions for such breaches include monetary fines of up to €2,500 and imprisonment for more serious breaches.
For anyone engaging in lobbying activities it is extremely important to ensure that you are compliant with your obligations under the Act to avoid both financial and reputational damage.
For more information on registration requirements and what constitutes lobbying under the Act please click here.
Contributed by Laura Murdock of William Fry.