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Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists Guidance on registration and quarterly information returns 20 May 2022

Friday 20th May 2022

  1. Introduction
  2. Requirement to register
    2.1. Who must register?
    2.2. The criteria for consultant lobbying
    2.3. What communications are registerable?
    2.4. What are positions ‘equivalent to’ Permanent Secretary?
    2.5. Communicating on behalf of multiple clients
    2.6. When is a communication considered to be made?
    2.7. What constitutes payment?
  3. Registering and keeping information up to date
    3.1. When to join the Register
    3.2. Pre-registration quarter
    3.3. Information required at point of registration
    3.4. Trading divisions and subsidiaries
    3.5. Declaring a code of conduct
    3.6. Updating register information and contact details
    3.7. Leaving the Register
  4. Quarterly Information Returns
    4.1. Contents of the Quarterly Information Return
    4.2. Client confidentiality
    4.3. Nil returns
  5. Exceptions from registration
    5.1. Lobbying that is incidental to non-lobbying activities
    5.2. Representative organisations
    5.3. Governments outside the UK and international organisations
  6. Think tanks and secretariats to APPGs
    6.1. Think tanks
    6.2. Providers of support services to All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs)

Appendix A: Checklist for code of conduct

1.           Introduction

This guidance sets out the main requirements for registering and providing information as a consultant lobbyist under the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 (‘the Act’). 

The Act sets out two key obligations on those who engage in consultant lobbying as defined by the Act:

  • To register as a consultant lobbyist before conducting any consultant lobbying activity.
  • To submit details each quarter of clients on whose behalf they have lobbied or been paid to lobby for in that period.

Organisations of any kind must register if they engage in consultant lobbying activity. Whether or not a business considers itself to be a public affairs company or lobbyist is irrelevant. The test is whether their activities fall within the statutory definition. 

Where this guidance refers to ‘Minister’, this includes Permanent Secretary and the equivalents specified in the Act.

The requirements of the Act are separate to rules administered by other bodies such as professional regulators, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) or the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. It is your responsibility to understand any separate rules that you may be subject to in addition to the Act.

This guidance should be read alongside the Act and other guidance issued by the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists. It does not aim to deal with unusual or complex situations and the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists (‘the Office of the Registrar’) is happy to provide further information or guidance in specific cases.

This guidance supersedes: Guidance on registration and quarterly information returns (July 2021).

This version includes minor changes throughout to aid clarity, with more significant changes to guidance on the incidental exception (paragraph 5.1) and secretariats to APPGs (paragraph 6.2).

2.           Requirement to register

2.1       Who must register?

Any person or organisation carrying out the business of consultant lobbying as defined by the Act must be entered in the Register of Consultant Lobbyists.

Businesses, organisations and individuals must register if they engage in consultant lobbying activity. Whether or not an organisation considers itself to be a public affairs company is irrelevant; the test is the nature of the activity they conduct on behalf of clients. There is no general exemption for charities and non-profits.

Those who lobby on behalf of their employer (sometimes called ‘in-house lobbyists’) do not need to register. Non-executive directors are generally not considered to be employees and would therefore need to register any activity that otherwise meets the tests for consultant lobbying.

Individuals making communications in the course of their employer’s consultant lobbying business do not need to register – only the employer must register.

It is an offence to carry on the business of consultant lobbying when unregistered.  It is also an offence if an entry in the Register is incomplete or inaccurate. See separate Guidance on compliance.

2.2.         The criteria for consultant lobbying

Organisations and individuals are considered to be carrying out the business of consultant lobbying if they fulfil these three tests:

1) They make oral, written or electronic communications personally to a Minister of the Crown or Permanent Secretary (or equivalents specified in the Act), relating to:

a) the development, adoption or modification of any proposal of the government to make or amend primary or subordinate legislation

b) the development, adoption or modification of any other policy of the government

c) the taking of any steps by the government in relation to any contract, agreement, grant, financial assistance, licence or authorisation; or

d) the exercise of any other function of the government.

and

2) The communication is made in the course of a business and in return for payment on behalf of a client, or payment is received with the expectation that the communication will be made at a later date.

and

They are registered under the Value Added Tax Act 1994.

2.3.         What communications are registrable?

2.3.1    Communications made personally:

Making communications personally means communicating with a UK Government Minister or Permanent Secretary (or equivalent)* in person, in writing or digitally (including online meetings, telephone calls and text messages). This means that:

  • Communications addressed to a Minister but sent via a private office are registrable.
  • Communications sent to a Minister’s named email address, postal address or phone are registrable, whether or not the Minister personally opens them.
  • Communications made to a government department, special adviser, administrator, private secretary or private office are not registrable.
  • If the communication is an invitation and contains material that meets the criteria for consultant lobbying, then it is registrable.
  • Participation in a meeting or event with a Minister whilst representing a client is registrable. This is the case whether or not the client is also present.
  • Informal or unplanned communications (for example at a social event or conference) are registrable if they otherwise meet the criteria for consultant lobbying. 
  • A communication from a Minister does not need to be registered.

*Where this guidance refers to ‘Minister’, this includes Permanent Secretary and the equivalents specified in the Act.

2.3.2    Role of the consultant lobbyist:

Where the consultant lobbyist has any involvement in a communication on behalf of a paying client in relation to government business, this will generally be registrable. This means that, for example, the following activities are registrable:

  • A communication in the client’s name sent by a consultant lobbyist to a Minister with a covering email or letter from the lobbyist or sent from the lobbyist’s email address. This is registrable irrespective of who drafted the communication and irrespective of any text in the consultant lobbyist’s covering email or letter.
  • A consultant lobbyist arranges with a Minister for a client to meet them or for the Minister to attend an event, with or without the lobbyist. The act of arranging the meeting or participation is registrable if the communication is directly with the Minister.
  • A consultant lobbyist accompanies a client to a meeting or event with a Minister.
  • A consultant lobbyist participates in an event or conference alongside a Minister and communicates on behalf of a client. This is registrable whether or not the client is present.

Where a consultant lobbyist drafts a document for a client and the client sends this directly to a Minister with no involvement by the consultant lobbyist in the transmission of the communication, this is not registrable.

2.3.3    Subject matter:

A communication needs to be registered if it relates to government business as defined in the criteria. The definition in the Act is wide, including any communication relating to ‘the exercise of any other function of the government’.

Whether or not the communication seeks commercial or financial advantage for the client is not relevant. So, an offer of free services or advice is registrable.

Government business does not include matters purely relating to local government, such as writing to a constituency MP who is also a Minister about a local planning issue. But if that planning issue is called-in for decision by the Secretary of State, then any communications from that point would need to be registered as this then involves a function of government.

If the criteria for consultant lobbying are met, a communication is registrable whether or not:

  • the subject of the communication is related to the Minister’s portfolio or Permanent Secretary’s department;
  • the subject is considered to be a party issue;
  • the Minister is considered – or considers themselves – to be acting as a constituency MP or in any other non-Ministerial capacity.

2.3.4    Social media:

If a social media message is directed to an official or personal social media account and fits the criteria for consultant lobbying, this will require registration. However, if a message refers to an account indirectly, such as mentioning that the Minister is speaking at an event and tagging the Minister’s account, then this would not require registration.

2.3.5    Location:

It does not matter where the communication is made, or whether the context is formal or informal – it could be a face-to-face or virtual meeting or event, within a government office, at a restaurant, at a party conference, or made from overseas. If the criteria for consultant lobbying are met, then this will trigger the requirement to register the activity. 

2.3.6    Planned or not:

Direct communications can be planned or unplanned – a chance encounter with a Minister would be registrable if all the other criteria are fulfilled.

2.3.7    Timing:

Only communications to a Minister in post at the time that an act of consultant lobbying is carried out need to be registered. Any communications made before they are in post or after they have left their post will not require registration.

2.3.8    Who initiates:

If a Minister initiates communication with an organisation and in the subsequent course of the exchange, the criteria for consultant lobbying are met, then the organisation is required to join the Register and register the activity. It does not matter that the Minister initiated the communications. The initial contact from the Minister is not itself registrable.

2.4.         What are positions ‘equivalent to’ Permanent Secretary?

Communications to those in positions equivalent to Permanent Secretary are also registrable. The Act defines these as:

  • Cabinet Secretary
  • Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
  • Chief Medical Officer
  • Director of Public Prosecutions
  • First Parliamentary Counsel
  • Government Chief Scientific Adviser
  • Head of the Civil Service
  • Prime Minister’s Adviser for Europe and Global Issues.

2.5.         Communicating on behalf of multiple clients

A consultant lobbyist might make a communication on a single issue on behalf of multiple clients. If the consultant lobbyist is being paid by all clients for this communication, they have to register each client’s name in their Quarterly Information Return.

2.6.         When is a communication considered to be made?

A communication is considered to be made when it is sent to a Minister. It does not matter if the recipient does not receive the communication, if the criteria for consultant lobbying are met, then the communication is registrable.

2.7.         What constitutes payment?

Lobbying “in the course of a business” means that an individual or organisation is engaged in lobbying in return for payment.

Payment can be in any form and can be made directly or indirectly. A consultant lobbyist cannot avoid registration by receiving payments via a third party. Payment might be made for a specific communication or as a retainer for a range of work only some of which are relevant communications.

It makes no difference whether the person or organisation paying is the one on behalf of whom the communications are made, though there must be some expectation by the payer that the communication will be made.

The fact that communications with Ministers are not listed specifically in a contract or an invoice does not preclude the requirement to register.

Lobbying conducted by an unpaid lobbyist, for example as pro-bono, is not registrable.

If an employee is on annual or unpaid leave or is seconded to or working for a Minister or client, but is still under the direction of their employer, any activity within the definition of consultant lobbying is registrable. By contrast, if they were under the direction of the Minister or client and not their employer, the activity is not registrable.

3.       Registering and keeping information up to date

3.1.         When to join the Register

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. This means that registration must take place before any consultant lobbying is conducted.

They may register in advance of carrying out lobbying activities (or receiving payment to do so) even if there are no specific lobbying activities envisaged at the point of registration.

The effective date of registration will be the first date on which the prospective registrant contacts the Office of the Registrar to request registration. Registration will not be backdated to before this date.

3.2.         Pre-registration quarter

The Act requires registrants to declare if they were paid for consultant lobbying in the three months before they applied to join the Register. Any such activity is a breach of the provisions of the Act which require registration before consultant lobbying is conducted.

3.3.         Information required at point of registration

This information is required at the point of registration:

Companies:Name, registered number and address of registered officeThe names of directors, any secretary and shadow directors*
Partnerships:The names of all partners and the address of its main office or place of business
Individuals:The individual’s name and the address of their main place of business or, if there is no such place, their home or business address where they may be contacted
AllVAT registration number
AllAny other name or names under which the person or organisation carries on business as a consultant lobbyist
AllA statement of: whether there is in place an undertaking to comply with a relevant code of conduct, and if so, where the code may be inspected

*A shadow director, is a person in accordance with whose directions or instructions the directors of the company are accustomed to act.

3.4.          Trading divisions and subsidiaries

If the consultant lobbying activity is carried out by a trading division of a parent company, the directors of the parent company should be declared unless the trading division is itself a company and has its own legal personality.

Only the directors of the trading division need to be declared if it is a company with a distinct legal personality.

Senior managers of a trading division need to be declared if they are also directors or shadow directors of the parent. A senior manager of a trading division who makes important final decisions on lobbying activity should be considered for this purpose a shadow director and should be declared.

3.5.         Declaring a code of conduct

When joining the Register, registrants have to declare “whether there is in place an undertaking … to comply with a relevant code of conduct” and if so, where that code can be found.  

There is no obligation under the Act to subscribe to a code of conduct, but if the registrant does not subscribe to a relevant code, the Register will state this.

3.5.1    Undertaking to comply

Registrants who wish to declare compliance with a code of conduct will need to agree to the following undertaking and to confirm with each Quarterly Information Return that it remains in place:

[Insert name of registrant] (”the registrant”) undertakes to comply with the code of conduct that can be found at [Insert online link to code] in relation to its consultant lobbying activity under the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 (“the Act”). The registrant will ensure that all those engaged in or participating in consultant lobbying activity on behalf of the registrant will comply with the stated code of conduct.

3.5.2    What is a ‘relevant code of conduct’?    

Under the Act a ‘relevant code of conduct’ is one that ‘governs the carrying on of the business of consultant lobbying’. Registrants will need to demonstrate that any code they wish to declare on the Register meets this test.

A registrant can choose to declare that they comply with a professional body’s code or develop and adhere to a self-authored code. In all cases, to be considered ‘relevant’ and to appear in the Register, the code must:

  • Go beyond setting out general, good professional behaviour and must contain provisions that are of particular relevance to the way that consultant lobbying activity is carried out.
  • Recognise a consultant lobbyist’s responsibilities to those to whom representations are made. A code that fails in this is unlikely to be ‘relevant’.
  • Provide a process for anyone affected by the registrant’s consultant lobbying activities to complain about an alleged breach of the code of conduct. This process must include oversight or control of the complaints process which is not carried out by the registrant themselves. This might be provided in a number of ways, including, for example, by an external adjudication or arbitration process defined in the code, or by the mechanisms of a professional body.  

Appendix A to this guidance is a checklist for those who wish to develop their own code of conduct.

3.5.3    Code of conduct written for individuals

A code of conduct that is written for individuals (for example, individual members of a professional body) can only be declared by an organisation if every member of the organisation who engages in consultant lobbying subscribes to that code. This might be demonstrated in a number of ways, including, for example, through terms in contracts of employment, monitored training, individual sign-up or other compliance processes.

Such codes will also need to meet the tests of relevance to the way that consultant lobbying is carried out. Registrants confirm in each quarterly return that all of their lobbyists comply with the declared code (see 3.5.1).

3.5.4    Access to a code of conduct

Where a registrant declares compliance with a code of conduct, they must provide a web link that requires no more than two clicks to reach the code. The code must be freely available, with no requirement, for example, for enquirers to register or provide any details to access the code.

3.6.         Updating Register information and contact details

The information that registrants must declare about themselves on the Register is shown in 3.3 of this guidance. It is the legal duty of registrants to keep this up to date by including all changes in their next statutory Quarterly Information Return (see section 4 below). It is an offence to fail to do this or do so in a way that is incomplete or inaccurate.

The Registrar uses the address that the registrant gives on the Register for a number of formal communications. It is therefore important that registrants regularly receive mail that is addressed to their registered address if that is different from their day-to-day trading address. If the address changes, registrants should notify the Office of the Registrar immediately and must also include the change on the next Quarterly Information Return.

In addition to the published information on the Register entry, registrants also provide the Office of the Registrar with contact information for one or more contacts. This allows the Office of the Registrar to contact registrants to communicate important information and resolve any queries easily and quickly. Registrants should therefore ensure that contact information is up to date by notifying the Office of the Registrar of any changes immediately (most obviously following staff changes). Failing this, registrants risk not being able to access the ORCL QIR system or not receiving important information from the Office of the Registrar.

3.7.         Leaving the Register

If a registrant discontinues the business of consultant lobbying, they may advise the Registrar that they wish to be removed from the Register. The effective date of leaving the Register will be the date on which the notification is received by the Office of the Registrar or a later date if requested.

  • After leaving the Register, a note will appear on the registrant’s page confirming that they have discontinued the business of consultant lobbying. 
  • Historical registration information will be kept on the live Register until the end of the following calendar year, when that Register is then archived.
  • Should they leave the Register part way through a calendar year, the registrant will receive a pro rata refund of the remainder of the year’s fee. 
  • If the registrant wishes to recommence the business of consultant lobbying, they must reapply to join the Register before any consultant lobbying takes place or payment is received for it.

4.           Quarterly Information Returns

Registered consultant lobbyists must submit a Quarterly Information Return within 14 days after the end of each quarter. This means:

Quarter to which QIR relatesPeriod during which QIR must be submitted
1 January – 31 March1 – 14 April
1 April – 30 June1 – 14 July
1 July – 30 September1 – 14 October
1 October – 31 December1 – 14 January

A Quarterly Information Return must not be submitted before the end of the quarter as this will be an incomplete return. However, entries can be made to the online QIR in advance of submission.

A failure to complete a Quarterly Information Return by the statutory due date is likely to result in a civil penalty being issued to the registrant.

4.1.         Contents of the Quarterly Information Return

The following information must be provided in each Quarterly Information Return:

  • The names of clients in relation to whom payment was received in the quarter for consultant lobbying activity, whether or not the lobbying has yet been done (but see note on retainer payments below).

And

  • The names of clients on whose behalf consultant lobbying was done during the quarter, whether or not payment has yet been received.

Or

  • A statement that the registrant did not engage in lobbying or receive payment for lobbying during the quarter.

Each Quarterly Information Return must also include details of changes to any of the registrant’s information on the Register as specified in 3.3 above.

Clients’ names must be provided correctly and in full, without using acronyms, unless the acronym is the registered name of the client. Client names must be provided consistently across quarters.  

A single act of consultant lobbying on behalf of a client triggers the need to submit the name of that client in the Quarterly Information Return. Registrants do not need to list how many individual communications were made on behalf of a client.

A client must be declared if either lobbying has taken place or payment has been received in a quarter. This means that the same client may be declared in two different quarters for the same lobbying activity. However, a retainer payment does not trigger the need for a client declaration unless relevant communication has taken place.

4.2.         Client confidentiality

The disclosure of clients’ names is required by the Act irrespective of expectations of client confidentiality. Consultant lobbyists may need to inform their clients accordingly.

4.3.         Nil returns

Registrants who have not made any communications that meet the criteria of consultant lobbying within a quarter must submit a Quarterly Information Return stating this. This ‘nil return’ will be displayed on the Register

If a registrant makes two successive nil returns, the Registrar will mark the registrant’s entry on the Register ‘This registrant has completed nil returns for the last six or more months.

Registrants who remain on the Register but are inactive continue to have the same obligations under the Act as active consultant lobbyists, including paying the annual fee and making Quarterly Information Returns. Such registrants may undertake consultant lobbying activity whilst they are registered.

5.       Exceptions from registration

The Act provides that the following do not require registration:

5.1.     Lobbying that is incidental to non-lobbying activities

A person does not carry on the business of consultant lobbying when they make a communication if:

  1. they carry on a business which consists mainly of non-lobbying activities, and
  2. the making of the communication is incidental to those activities.

In this context, ‘incidental’ means: a minor accompaniment to the main focus of a business’s activities. This is a narrow exception and will not apply to most businesses or individuals that engage in consultant lobbying.

A communication is not incidental when it is a substantive part of the main business assessed either:

  • by volume; or
  • by the value of the work undertaken; or
  • by its significance to the client offering; or
  • by the significance of its contribution to the business’s non-lobbying activities.

This means that:

  • If lobbying forms a significant proportion of an organisation’s activities, even if it is not the majority of its work, it will not be incidental.
  • If lobbying is a small proportion of an organisation’s activities, but is a recognised part of its offer to clients, it will not be incidental.
  • If lobbying is a small proportion of an organisation’s activities but generates a significant amount of income, it will not be incidental.
  • If lobbying is a small proportion of an organisation’s activities but makes a significant contribution to the non-lobbying activities, it will not be incidental.

If an organisation undertakes only a small amount of lobbying work but that lobbying work makes a significant contribution to its non-lobbying work – either, for example, because it enhances its public profile or because it makes a substantive difference to some aspect of the business’s non-lobbying work – then these activities will be registrable. So, a relatively small piece of lobbying work which made a decisive difference to an organisation’s non-lobbying business – for example, by seeking a change to regulation which would enable a large construction project to proceed – would be registrable.

If an organisation has employees whose job includes communicating with Ministers on behalf of clients or if the organisation offers a lobbying service to clients, then these activities will be registrable.

The fact that an organisation considers this service to be a minor part of their business or they do not think of themselves as lobbyists does not mean that they are not lobbying.

As a result, most lawyers, accountants, management consultants and others that communicate with Ministers on behalf of clients are required to register.

5.2.     Representative organisations

An organisation is exempt from the requirement to register if:

  • It represents a particular class or body of people; and
  • its income is derived wholly or mainly from those people; and
  • its communications on behalf of those people is no more than an incidental part of its general activity.  

All parts of the test must be satisfied for the exemption to apply: the lobbying is on behalf of a class or body of people who pay most of the organisation’s income and the lobbying is incidental to the organisation’s activities.

If lobbying is conducted on behalf of a client who is not represented by that representative organisation, this is an act of consultant lobbying and will need to be registered.

5.3.     Governments outside the UK and international organisations

A consultant lobbying organisation representing a government outside the UK or an international organisation would be required to register and declare this government or organisation as a client if they meet the criteria of consultant lobbying.

6.       Think tanks and secretariats to APPGs

Whether or not an organisation or person is operating as a consultant lobbyist is judged in each case against the provisions of the Act, in particular the criteria for consultant lobbying.

The tests for all types of organisations are the same, however, some issues may be more significant for think tanks and those who provide secretariat services to All-Party Parliamentary Groups and guidance is given below.

6.1.         Think tanks

The criteria for consultant lobbying determine whether an activity requires registration as consultant lobbying and the following issues may be relevant when considering whether a think tank is conducting registrable consultant lobbying activity:

6.1.1    Is the communication ‘in return for payment’?

The nature of a payment from a funder to a think tank helps to determine whether a communication is ‘in return for payment’.

If funding is provided to a think tank in return for arranging access to Ministers or for a specific project with the expectation that the end product (for example, a report or an event) will be used to communicate with a Minister about Government policy, then this is likely to be registrable. A demonstrably generic donation not connected to a particular end product is unlikely to be registrable.

6.1.2    Is the communication ‘on behalf of a client’?

If funding is provided for a project, but the funder cannot exercise control over the outcome of the project, the activity is unlikely to be registrable. This is because any resulting communication would be expressing the think tank’s views, rather than being on behalf of a client. An independence clause in a funding agreement or contract is indicative of an absence of control by a funder.

6.2       Secretariats to All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs)

Some organisations that provide secretariat or other support services to APPGs (“secretariats”) will need to register as consultant lobbyists. If relevant communications are made to a Minister by the secretariat on behalf of the APPG (or its individual funders) and in return for payment, then that activity will be registrable.

This means:

  • If a secretariat communicates with a Minister on behalf of an APPG, receives payment and is UK VAT registered, then this activity is registrable.
  • If a secretariat communicates with a Minister on behalf of an APPG, but does not receive payment from the APPG or its funders or is not UK VAT registered, then this activity is not registrable.

6.2.1    Who is the client? 

Where a secretariat is paid to communicate with a Minister on behalf of an APPG, the APPG is the client to be declared on the Quarterly Information Return. In addition, any organisation or person providing funding, either directly to the secretariat or to the APPG, must also be declared on the QIR alongside the APPG. The purpose of the Act is to ensure that it is clear whose interests the consultant lobbyist is representing.

If a secretariat makes relevant communications for any of the APPG funders separately, these sponsors are then individual clients and must be declared as such on the registrant’s return.

6.2.2    Role of the secretariat:

The criteria for consultant lobbying mean that an activity is registrable if it relates to government business and if the communication is made by the secretariat on behalf of another organisation or individual. Therefore:

  • If the secretariat drafts letters, reports or agendas that relate to government business and these are communicated to a Minister by (for example) an Officer of the APPG (and not by the secretariat), this activity will not be registrable.
  • If a communication in the name of an APPG is attached to a covering email or letter to the Minister from the secretariat this will be registrable, whether or not the covering text itself refers to government business.
  • If the secretariat accompanies a representative of the APPG to a meeting with a Minister or communicates with a Minister to arrange a meeting on behalf of the APPG this is likely to be registrable activity.
  • If the secretariat participates in an event or conference alongside a Minister and on behalf of the APPG, this is registrable. This is the case whether or not the client is also present.

If administrative work might lead the secretariat into relevant communications (for example an unplanned conversation with a Minister), then the secretariat must register as a consultant lobbyist ahead of those communications. It is unlawful to communicate without prior registration.

6.2.3    Payment

The criteria for consultant lobbying include both direct and indirect payment. It does not matter whether the person making the payment is the person on behalf of whom the communications are made and it does not matter whether a particular payment relates to a particular communication.

This means that it makes no difference whether the payment to the secretariat comes directly from the APPG or external funders pay the secretariat, either directly to the secretariat or via the APPG. The test is whether the secretariat receives payment in return for making relevant communications on behalf of the APPG.

Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists

Guidance on registration and quarterly information returns

Appendix A: Checklist for code of conduct

When you are registered on the Register of Consultant Lobbyists, you need to declare on your entry whether or not you work to a code of conduct and confirm this undertaking with each Quarterly Information Return.

Registrants who are members of a professional body usually declare that body’s code. If you wish to develop and work to your own bespoke code of conduct, the Registrar will need to check that it meets the standards for a code as set out in the Act and guidance

The content and enforcement of your code is your responsibility and you will have your own values and standards that will be appropriate for your company’s code. This checklist is simply intended to guide you on key areas that need to be included in a code before it can be declared on the Register.

It is best to use straightforward, everyday language so it is as easy as possible to understand your standards and the complaint and adjudication process. There should be no unreasonable barriers to those wishing to make a complaint in relation to the code.

Introduction Describe the purpose of your code, what it covers and broadly how it operates. An example of such an introduction is: This code of conduct sets out the way that we, [Company or organisation name] carry out consultant lobbying activities on behalf of clients. All of our directors, employees, consultants and others involved in consultant lobbying are bound by this code of conduct.
How we work Set out how you will behave when lobbying – what standards you set for your team, what you will do and what you won’t. This can include general provisions about good professional behaviour, but it must go further so that it is particularly applicable to how you carry out consultant lobbying. As well as your responsibilities to clients, you should set out your responsibilities to those being lobbied.
Complaints procedure Describe how a client can complain about behaviour that they think breaches the code. Consider whether you also want to allow those being lobbied or otherwise affected by your lobbying to complain. Who do they complain to? What is the procedure? What are the timelines?
External oversight Set out how external oversight or control of the complaints process and decision-making is provided. How this is done is up to you and the Registrar will consider whether it is adequate. Common ways of achieving this include appointing an external lawyer or arbitrator to consider complaints and provide binding decisions. The external person might be named in the code or the code might define the type of person and how they will be appointed.
Sanctions What are the sanctions or consequences for your business if you are found to have beached your code? Are there any consequences for the individuals involved in a breach? Where is the outcome of a complaint published?

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