The enforcement provisions of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 (the Act) will come into force on 1 January 2017.
These enforcement provisions, which are contained in Part 4 of the Act, include penalties upon conviction.
Most of the Act has been in force since September 2015. The Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) has made it clear that the obligations under the Act have been applicable and in force since September 2015. It was decided to postpone bringing the enforcement provisions of the Act into operation so that the public, and the organisations to which the Act applies, would have time to become familiar with the new obligations.
Part 4 of the Act includes penalties upon conviction, ranging from a fixed payment fine of €200 increasing to heftier fines equivalent to Class C under the Fines Act 2010, which is currently up to €2,500. In some cases, penalties in the Act provide for imprisonment for up to two years. Offences include a failure to register, a failure to make a return, and the provision of false information in respect of a return, or in respect of an investigation being carried out under the Act.
In advance of the expiry of the "grace period" afforded in respect of the measures in Part 4, individuals or companies who may be lobbying should familiarise themselves with the guidance provided by SIPO on www.lobbying.ie and seek advice on how to manage compliance, including risks which exist within their practice or organisation.
To view our previous update on the Lobbying Act, please click here.