Regulation Of Lobbying: Getting Ready For The May Deadline



Established in 1825 in Dublin, Ireland and with offices in Cork, London, New York, Palo Alto and San Francisco, more than 700 people work across Matheson’s six offices, including 96 partners and tax principals and over 470 legal and tax professionals. Matheson services the legal needs of internationally focused companies and financial institutions doing business in and from Ireland. Our clients include over half of the world’s 50 largest banks, 6 of the world’s 10 largest asset managers, 7 of the top 10 global technology brands and we have advised the majority of the Fortune 100.
The first lobbying period of the year ended on 30 April 2024. Anyone who has conducted lobbying activities within the period from 1 January 2024 to 30 April 2024...
Ireland Government, Public Sector
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The first lobbying period of the year ended on 30 April 2024. Anyone who has conducted lobbying activities within the period from 1 January 2024 to 30 April 2024 (the "Relevant Period") is required to file a lobbying return in respect of these activities with the Standards in Public Office Commission ("SIPO") by 21 May 2024. It is therefore timely to consider the obligations of lobbyists under the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 (as amended by the Regulation of Lobbying and Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) (Amendment) Act 2023 (the "2023 Act")) (the "2015 Act").

As a reminder, the majority of the reforms introduced by the 2023 Act in relation to registration and filing of returns came into effect from 1 January 2024. Separately, the provisions of the 2023 Act that introduce the new administrative sanctions regime for Designated Public Officials ("DPOs") who breach the 'cooling off' requirements of the 2015 Act, will shortly come into effect on 1 June 2024.

As a general rule, individuals and organisations within the scope of the 2015 Act are prohibited from carrying on lobbying activities unless they are registered on the Register of Lobbying, which is managed by SIPO. We have outlined below the key considerations that will determine whether you are required to register (if not already registered) and submit a lobbying return. As we set out in our previous January update, the matters to be considered are outlined in SIPO's "Am I Lobbying?" information note. Please note that if you have carried on lobbying activities during the Relevant Period without being registered, you will be required to register before 21 May 2024.

It is important to remember that once you are registered as a lobbyist, you are required to file a return in respect of all Relevant Periods, even if you have not actually conducted any lobbying activities during the Relevant Period. In that case you must file a return confirming that you have not engaged in lobbying (otherwise known as a 'nil return').

1. Does one of the following describe you or your organisation?

  • An employer with more than 10 employees where the communications are made on your behalf;
  • A representative body with at least one employee communicating on behalf of its members and the communication is made by a paid employee or office holder of the body;
  • An issue-based body with at least one employee that exists primarily to take up particular issues and a paid employee or office holder of the body is communicating on such issues;
  • A representative or issue-based body, with no full time employees, where at least one of the body's members would fall within scope of the 2015 Act if such member or members were to carry on lobbying activities outside of the body;
  • A third party being paid to communicate on behalf of a client who fits into one of the preceding three categories; and
  • Any person communicating about the development or zoning of land.

2. Are you communicating directly or indirectly with a DPO?

DPOs prescribed under the 2015 Act include, amongst others, Government Ministers, Members of the Oireachtas, Members of the European Parliament, and certain prescribed public servants and office-holders. Public bodies must publish information on their employees who are DPOs.

3. Are you communicating about a "relevant matter" and the communication is not an "excepted communication" within the meaning of the 2015 Act?

A relevant communication means an oral or written communication made personally (directly or indirectly) to a DPO in relation to a relevant matter. A relevant matter means any matter relating to:

  • The initiation, development or modification of any public policy or of any public programme;
  • The preparation or amendment of any law; and
  • The award of any grant, loan or other financial support, contract or other agreement, or of any licence or other authorisation involving public funds.

It does not include any matter relating only to the implementation of any such policy, programme, enactment or award.

Certain types of communication, known as excepted communications, are not considered to be lobbying under the 2015 Act. Those include:

  • Communications by or on behalf of an individual relating to their private affairs about any matter other than the development or zoning of land;
  • Communications requesting factual information or providing factual information in response to a request for the information; and
  • Communications requested by a public service body and published by it.

The likelihood is that you will be considered to be carrying out lobbying activities if you answered all of the above questions positively.

Remainder of the 2023 Act effective from 1 June 2024

As outlined in our previous January update, the remainder of the provisions of the 2023 Act, which relate to the new administrative sanctions regime for breaches of the 'cooling-off period' for DPOs following them ceasing to be a DPO and the Circuit Court confirmation process (where SIPO has imposed a 'major sanction'), will come into effect on 1 June 2024. A minor sanction will include advice, a reprimand or a caution or a combination of the three, whereas a major sanction can include a financial sanction up to €25,000 and / or up to a two year prohibition on being a registered lobbyist.


Organisations should assess whether they are captured by the obligations under the 2015 Act (as amended) as soon as possible. If you consider that you have carried out lobbying activities under the revised provisions then you should take steps to register as a lobbyist on the Registration of Lobbying website and commence making returns to SIPO.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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