1. Matters for compliance
Under Part 1, section 8 of the Act, the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists has “a duty to monitor compliance with the obligations imposed by or under this part.”
In order to deliver the requirements of the Act, it is understood that the Registrar has a duty to monitor compliance with the following obligations:
- The requirement to be entered on the Register before conducting the business of consultant lobbying as defined by the Act.
- The requirement to submit complete and accurate information on all registered persons, including for example, address, company number (where appropriate), directorships and code of conduct subscribed to when joining the Register.
- The requirement to submit complete and accurate information updates about clients that registrants have provided consultant lobbyist services on behalf of, in a way described by the Act.
- The requirement to make information updates within the two weeks ending at the end of a quarter.
- The requirement for registrants to provide accurate information about their organisation if there are any changes (such as a change in Directors) whilst on the Register.
It is clear that these obligations present a number of ways in which an organisation can demonstrate non-compliance which differ in severity. It is my intention to use the following categorisations under which instances of non-compliance can be categorised and dealt with in a manner appropriate to each instance:
Non-purposeful errors made in the course of attempting to comply with the requirements of the Act. It should be noted that my Office already checks the detail of the content of all registrations and returns as standard practice and engages with the registrant where errors are found to seek clarification and/or correction. Examples might include:
- Spelling errors made in either client returns or organisation information; and
- Minor inaccuracies in the information uploaded, especially where there are large numbers of directors, partners and/or clients;
- Minor discrepancies in VAT or company numbers;
- An occasional late quarterly return.
In instances of administrative error, it would be my intention to engage with the organisation to rectify the mistake and elevate the matter to an issue of non-compliance only if:
- a) No attempt is made to rectify the error; and/or
- b) The error is made repeatedly.
I consider it proportionate and reasonable to discount administrative errors as ‘’material particulars’’.
Where an organisation seeks to avoid joining the Register though legally required to do so, or attempts to interfere with the transparency of the Register by uploading false or inaccurate information. Examples might include:
Conducting the business of consultant lobbying without first joining the Register
Joining the Register without envisaging that relevant consultant lobbying will ever take place
- An organisation’s entry is missing a material particular(s), such as the names of all Directors (but see administrative error above)
- Deliberately uploading of inaccurate or incomplete client names, or deliberately failing to disclose clients
- Submitting information returns outside the period of two weeks at the end of a quarter on more than one occasion