Guidance

Joining the Register of Consultant Lobbyists

Information on who is required to join the statutory Register of Consultant Lobbyists, how to join and how to submit quarterly returns.

This guidance was withdrawn on

Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists has a separate website. View the guidance.

Visit the Register of Consultant Lobbyists to

  • apply to join the Register
  • access your account to make a quarterly return

You can also search the publicly accessible Register.

Who needs to register

The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 (the Act) states that an organisation must join the Register and submit quarterly information returns if they are carrying on the business of consultant lobbying – ie if both of the following apply:

  • they are going to make communications personally to a UK government minister, Permanent Secretary or equivalent, relating to the functions, policy or legislation of the British government on behalf of a paying client, or have received payment to do so at a later date
  • they are VAT-registered

A client is a third party organisation on whose behalf you communicate in return for payment. A client can be anyone, including private companies, charities and individuals.

If you conduct the business of consultant lobbying without first being entered into the Register of lobbyists you may be liable for civil or criminal penalties.

Communications

Communications that require registration relate to any of the following:

  • government policy
  • legislation
  • the award of contracts, grants, licences or similar benefits
  • the exercise of any other government function

You don’t have to register communications relating to the EU, local government, or devolved administrations – only the UK government.

You are only required to register if the communication is made personally. For example, if you drafted communications for a client to send, you wouldn’t have to join the Register since no direct communication has taken place. However, you would have to join the Register if a client drafted communications relating to government business and you sent this personally to a minister.

If you need further help with the definitions above, read guidance on the requirement to register or questions about the requirement to register.

If you’re still unsure if you should register, contact enquiries@orcl.gov.uk for more information.

When to register

You can join the Register at any time but you must be on the Register before conducting the business of consultant lobbying. If you are planning to do any consultant lobbying, or will receive payment to do so later, you should register at the earliest opportunity.

You can join the Register even if you’re not sure when you might do any consultant lobbying. If you don’t do any, you can declare a nil return at the end of that quarter.

When you first join the Register you will have to submit an information return for the previous quarter before you joined – this must be completed within 2 weeks of joining the Register.

If you have not heard back within 4 working days after submitting your application and making payment you can assume that we have approved and processed your registration.

You can also apply by post.

Registration fee

The registration fee for 2015 is £750.

Cabinet Office determines the fee. This includes the costs associated with maintaining the Register and processing registration and quarterly return information.

The amount paid is calculated based on the number of days left in the calendar year. For example, if you registered on 1 April 2015 the registration fee would be £577 for the rest of 2015.

Payments are also subject to transaction charges from the payment mechanism providers:

  • if you pay by BACS, this transaction will incur a £0.50 surcharge
  • if you pay by debit card this transaction will incur a £0.18 surcharge
  • if you pay by credit card this transaction will incur a £12.13 surcharge

Information needed to register

You should have a single point of contact for your organisation. We recommend using a generic email address to preserve the legacy of the account holder.

You will need to provide:

  • your organisation’s VAT number – this helps us to verify your organisation
  • details of the UK bank account, credit or debit card you will use for payment
  • details of the organisation you are registering, including its registered name, address, and the names of all partners, directors, company secretaries and shadow directors where relevant
  • information about the clients who paid you to conduct the business of consultant lobbying in the quarter before you join
  • details of any relevant code of conduct the individual or organisation follows (if applicable)

You should have one VAT number for your organisation. If your organisation has multiple VAT numbers associated with it, this may mean you need to register for both of these VAT numbers. Contact enquiries@orcl.gov.uk to find out more.

Organisation details

The name you provide must be the correct legal title of the individual or organisation joining the Register as listed at Companies House (if applicable).

For sole traders, please provide your full name, eg Katie Anne Jones. For other organisations, such as trade or membership bodies, clubs, community interest groups etc, please provide your legal organisation name.

Sole traders

If you register as an individual and your business address is the same as your home address, you can give a care-of address where you can be contacted, eg the Institute of Directors.

Code of conduct

The code of conduct you declare must be relevant to the definition of consultant lobbying as defined by the Act. You can declare a code of conduct for individuals or an organisation. However, you should only declare a code of conduct for individuals if every member of your organisation subscribes to that code. If you subscribe to multiple codes of conduct, you can choose which one you feel is most relevant.

If your code of conduct is not hosted online, give the address at which your code of conduct can be viewed.

Information needed to submit a return

Once registered, you need to submit an information return within 2 weeks of the end of each quarter. Quarters begin on January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1. You also need to submit a return for the quarter before you registered (the pre-registration quarter). You will have 2 weeks from the point of registration to do this.

If you have carried out consultant lobbying activity

You will need to know the names of the paying clients on whose behalf you have conducted the business of consultant lobbying in the previous quarter, or you have received payment to do so at a later date. You only need to list each client’s name – not the individual communications made.

If you’re unsure if you have lobbied on behalf of a specific client, contact enquiries@orcl.gov.uk for support.

If you have not carried out consultant lobbying activity

If you have not conducted the business of consultant lobbying (as defined by the Act) in the previous quarter, you still have to complete a quarterly return. You can submit a nil return that states that no consultant lobbying has been done.

Information available on the Register

Members of the public can search the Register by names of consultant lobbyists and by the names of clients submitted. There is a profile page for each consultant lobbyists that shows:

  • the quarterly returns they have submitted
  • the names of clients they have declared
  • information about the company, organisation, individual or partnership, including (where relevant) VAT number, address of main office or place of business, and directors
  • whether the organisation has signed up to follow a relevant code of conduct and where to read this code

Contact ORCL

Contact enquiries@orcl.gov.uk if you:

  • want to make a paper application
  • are unsure if you should register or need more information
  • think you have made a mistake on a registration or a quarterly return (please include the information that needs to be corrected)

We will try to respond to your email within 2 working days.

You can also write to us at:

Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists
2nd Floor, 35 Great Smith Street
London, SW1P 3BQ

Published 25 March 2015