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10 Things about the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016...

10 Things about the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016...

Scotland’s new Lobbying Register is now live with the coming in to force of the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016 on 12 March 2018.

With the aim of increasing public transparency over face-to-face communications with the Scottish Parliament or Scottish Government all regulated lobbying (as defined in the Act) has to be registered. 

Not all lobbying is covered, however if you or your organisation undertake lobbying activity then you should understand what the new requirements are and what action you need to take.  

Here are “10 Things” you should know about the Act:

  1. The Act creates criminal offences to fail to register and record regulated lobbying in a new Lobbying Register maintained by the Scottish Parliament; to provide information relating to regulated lobbying which is inaccurate or incomplete; or to fail to comply with an investigation into regulated lobbying.
  2. The Act does not include all lobbying. Regulated lobbying means face to face, oral communication with a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), a member of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Government’s Permanent Secretary or a Scottish Government Special Adviser in relation to Scottish Government or Scottish parliamentary functions.
  3. Scottish Government or Scottish Parliamentary functions are wide in scope.  They include those relating to legislation to be made in the Scottish Parliament or Scottish Government Policy; contracts, grants and other financial assistance; licences and other authorisations where the Scottish Government has a role; and matters raised with an MSP.
  4. To be regulated lobbying, the opportunity to communicate must be used to inform or influence decisions on behalf of your organisation (or those you represent).
  5. The Act includes activities carried out by paid consultants acting on behalf of other parties as well as lobbyists that may be in-house (employees, directors, partners).  It is not regulated lobbying if you are not paid.  You must be paid for representing the views of your organisation (or those of a third party).
  6. The Act does not limit when or where the regulated lobbying may take place.  The communication could be anywhere: at your place of business, at a meeting, at a conference or social event and out with Scotland.  It also applies when you use technology or a device which enables you to see and hear each other such as video conferencing or Face Time Video.
  7. Letters, emails, and telephone calls are excluded types of communication.  There are 13 further exemptions to regulated lobbying under the Act including communications by individuals on their own behalf, a business to their local MSP or for the purposes of journalism.
  8. If engaged in regulated lobbying you must register and provide details within 30 days of the activity having taken place. Once registered submissions can be made any time, but at least every six months based on the date on which regulated lobbying first took place.
  9. Senior officers of organisations can be prosecuted for the same offence as the organisation if the offence relating to regulated lobbying was committed with their consent, connivance or attributable to their neglect.
  10. Penalties for failure to register and record information relating to regulated lobbying are fines of up to £1,000 per offence.  It is a defence if you can show that you exercised all due diligence to avoid committing the offence.  Penalties for failure to comply with an investigation include three months imprisonment and fines of up to £5,000.

For our full legal briefing on the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016 please click here.

Please contact Lynne Gray or Fran Hutchison for further information or advice.

By Lynne Gray
Director, Corporate Crime

Burness admin