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2. Registration process

When to join the Register and the consequences of not registering

Section 1 of the Act specifies that an individual or organisation must not carry on the business of consultant lobbying unless they are entered in the Register of Consultant Lobbyists. The business of consultant lobbying is defined in chapter 4 of this guidance.

Any person or organisation intending to conduct the business of consultant lobbying must be entered into the Register before doing so.

Individuals and organisations will also be able to register in advance of having carried out any specific lobbying activities (or receiving payment to do so) even if there were no specific lobbying activities envisaged at the point of registration, if such activities were envisaged at some point in the future.

Section 12 specifies it is an offence to carry on the business of consultant lobbying if an individual or organisation is unregistered. It is also an offence if an entry in the Register is incomplete or inaccurate. This may result in a fine from a Court (although there is a defence of due diligence in such cases). The Registrar may impose a civil penalty (section 14 of the Act).

Information required at point of registration

In order to deliver the requirements of the Act, the following information will be required at the point of registration:

Company
  • Its name, its registered number and the address of its registered office, and
  • The names of its directors and of any secretary and any shadow directors (see further clarification below);
Partnership The names of all the partners and the address of its main office or place of business (this can be the address from which lobbying is conducted)
Individual The individual’s name and the address of the individual’s main place of business (or, if there is no such place, the individual’s residence, or alternative business address where the individual may be contacted)
 All VAT registration number
 All Any name or names, not included under paragraphs above, under which the person carries on business as a consultant lobbyist
 All A statement of:

  • Whether there is in place an undertaking by the person to comply with a relevant code of conduct, and
  • if so, where a copy of the code may be inspected.

Where relevant consultant lobbying has taken place by a trading division (A) (which is not itself a company and does not have a distinct legal personality), of another company (B), the directors of B should be declared. Senior managers (Chief Executive of Division or Head of Practice for example) of A might need to be declared if they were also Directors/Shadow Directors of B. For the avoidance of doubt, a senior manager of A who makes important final decisions on lobbying activity, should be considered a Shadow Director of B and should be declared. If A is a company (with a distinct legal personality, and a subsidiary of B), then the directors of A would need to be declared.

A ‘shadow director’, is a person in accordance with whose directions or instructions the directors of a UK limited company are accustomed to act. Such a person has the same duties and responsibilities as a director.

Information updates

Under the Act, the following information will be required on a quarterly basis, starting with information from the quarter immediately prior to registration (the pre-registration quarter):

The name of the client(s) on whose behalf oral or written communications were made (or payment was received in order to make) personally to a Minister, Permanent Secretary (or equivalents) relating to the actual or proposed development, adoption or modification of any legislation, policy, financial arrangement or exercise of any function of Government.

Care should be taken to provide the names of clients correctly and in full (acronyms should not be used, unless the acronym is the registered name of the client company). It is important that client names are consistent in all quarterly returns, and also when they are declared by more than one registrant, to ensure the integrity of the information across the Register.
Only one act of consultant lobbying on behalf of a client is required to trigger the need to submit the name of that client in an information update.
Registrants will only have to submit the client name: there is no requirement to list individual communications made on behalf of that client. It does not matter whether a registrant lobbied 20 times for client A and once for client B, the registrant would only be required to submit both client names.
Registration is required prior to undertaking relevant lobbying activity, but registrants have until 14 days after the end of each quarter to declare their clients (so clients do not need to be declared ‘pre-emptively’).
Clients must be declared if either relevant lobbying has taken place or payment has been received. This means the same client may be registered in two different quarters for the same lobbying activity. A retainer payment does not trigger the need for a client declaration unless relevant direct communication has taken place.

Nil returns

Registrants who have not made any communications that would meet the criteria of consultant lobbying within a quarter should submit a nil return, by 14 days after the end of each quarter.
Registrants will have to actively declare that no consultant lobbying had taken place as defined by the Act in this quarter. The following wording will appear on the Register after declaration:
[Organisation] confirms that, during this quarter, it has made no communications which meet the definition of consultant lobbying as defined by the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act.

Declaring a code of conduct

When joining the Register, registrants will have to declare whether they subscribe to a relevant code of conduct and if so, where that code can be found. A hyperlink to a code which is hosted online can be provided, or the address of the individual or organisation that holds the code.

  • Relevance is determined in relation to consultant lobbying, and may be a code of conduct for organisations or individuals. If a code of conduct concerning individuals is declared on behalf of an organisation, it should be so declared only if every member of that organisation subscribes to that code.
  • It may be the case that an organisation subscribes to multiple codes of conduct. In this case, declaration of one code of conduct is sufficient and the registrant can choose which they feel is most relevant.
  • In the case that the registrant does not subscribe to a code of conduct, the following text will be displayed on the Register:

[Organisation] does not subscribe to a relevant code of conduct.

Leaving the Register

If a registrant has decided to discontinue the business of consultant lobbying, they may advise the Office of the Registrar of consultant lobbyists at enquiries@orcl.gov.uk that they wish to be removed from the Register.

  • After leaving the Register, a note will appear on the registrant’s page confirming that they have discontinued the business of consultant lobbying as defined by the Act. Historical registration information will be kept on the Register for at least one year.
  • Should they leave the Register part way through a calendar year, the registrant can apply for a refund of the remainder of the year’s fee by contacting the Office of the Registrar of consultant lobbyists at enquiries@orcl.gov.uk
  • If, in future, the registrant wishes to recommence the business of consultant lobbying as defined by the Act, they must reapply to join the Register and pay the appropriate fee.