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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Here are answers to some of the most common questions that we are asked. These answers should be read alongside the more detailed information in the legislation and the guidance that the Registrar has issued. The FAQs do not aim to deal with unusual or complex situations and the Office of the Registrar is happy to provide further information or guidance office@orcl.gov.uk

Questions of general interest

Questions for prospective registrants

Questions for existing registrants

Questions of general interest

What is the role of the Registrar?

The Registrar is an independent statutory office holder appointed under the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 (‘the Act’).

Under the Act, the Registrar is required to:

  • establish and manage the UK Register of Consultant Lobbyists
  • develop and publish guidance for consultant lobbyists on their duties under the Act
  • monitor and enforce compliance with the Act’s legal requirements
  • publish an annual statement of accounts.

What does the Act require of consultant lobbyists?

The Act sets out two key obligations on consultant lobbyists as defined by the Act:

  • register before conducting any consultant lobbying activity
  • submit details of clients they have lobbied for or been paid to lobby for each quarter.

What are the Registrar’s powers?

When investigating whether a person or organisation should be on the Register, the Registrar may issue a statutory Information Notice, requiring the provision of relevant information. The Registrar may issue a civil penalty notice where a person or organisation has not complied with the requirements of the Act. This includes: undertaking consultant lobbying whilst unregistered; failing to respond to a statutory information notice (or responding in an inaccurate, late, or incomplete manner); or failing to provide a Quarterly Information Return (or doing so in an inaccurate, late, or incomplete manner). If a person or organisation commits an offence under the Act the Registrar can impose a civil penalty of up to £7500 or refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions for potential criminal prosecution.

Is the Registrar a regulator of lobbying or public affairs? Can I complain to the Registrar about the conduct of a lobbyist?

The Registrar is not a regulator, but ensures that consultant lobbying activity is registered in accordance with the Act. If a registrant wishes to declare on the Register that they abide by a code of conduct, the Registrar determines whether the proposed code is ‘relevant’ to consultant lobbying and can therefore be declared on the Register. This assessment includes the requirement for a code to include some external and independent oversight in the monitoring or handling of complaints of breach of the code. If a code of conduct is declared on the Register, this will include a route for complaints. The Registrar has no role in the handling of any such complaints, nor in monitoring adherence to any declared code.

Can I report someone for engaging in consulting lobbying whilst not on the Register?

Yes. The Registrar takes allegations about a person or organisation who is suspected of carrying out consulting lobbying without being on the Register seriously. If there is sufficient evidence, the Registrar will conduct a formal investigation. Please send as much detail as possible to office@orcl.gov.uk.

Who is the Registrar accountable to?

The Registrar is an office holder appointed by statute and is independent of Government. They are accountable to Parliament, principally through the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. The Registrar provides their annual report and accounts to Parliament.  As with other public bodies, the Registrar has a sponsor department, (Cabinet Office in this case) whose Minister arranges for the provision of staff and services to support the Registrar in delivering their statutory duties.

Who is responsible for policy and legislation concerning lobbying?

Policy and legislation relating to lobbying are the responsibility of the Cabinet Office, not the Registrar.

Questions for prospective registrants

Do I need to join the statutory Register?

It is illegal to conduct consultant lobbying activity without first being on the statutory Register. In broad terms, consultant lobbying is communicating with a UK Government Minister or Permanent Secretary (or certain equivalents) on behalf of a third party, in return for payment. There is a definition in the Act and the Registrar’s guidance contains more detailed information on applying that definition. Please contact us if you are unsure if your activities require you to register.

I lobby for myself or my organisation and not for third parties, so do I need to Register?

No. The statutory obligation applies only to consultant lobbying, so lobbying by in-house teams or on behalf of yourself is outside the remit of the Registrar. In the interests of transparency, such people may wish to consider including themselves on the voluntary industry body registers, such as the UK Lobbying Register (maintained by CIPR) or the Public Affairs Register (maintained by PRCA).

Can I join the Register if I am not a consultant lobbyist?

No. The Register exists to give public clarity and transparency about which organisations and individuals undertake consultant lobbying work and for whom.

I am not registered for Value Added Tax (VAT). Can I register as a consultant lobbyist?

No. If your organisation is not registered for VAT, then you cannot join the Register.

What if I have conducted consultant lobbying work or been paid in advance to do so before realising I needed to register?

Delivering or being paid in advance for consultant lobbying work whilst unregistered is an offence under the Act, even if committed unintentionally. It is therefore highly likely that you will receive a civil penalty for any pre-registration consultant lobbying activity when you do register. Where you voluntarily declare such breaches, the Registrar will take that into account in determining any penalty, as opposed to higher penalties that are likely for offences that are not voluntarily disclosed.

How do I join the Register?

You can apply to join the Register via the Register portal. We will enter your details on the published Register within four working days of a completed registration. You will be sent a registration fee demand, which must be paid within 30 days to validate your registration.

How much does registration cost?

Registration costs £1000 a calendar year. This is made up of the registration fee of £950 and £12.50 per Quarterly Information Return period. If you join the Register part-way through a year, you will pay a pro-rata fee. There is also a fee of £12.50 for processing your initial registration. Fee levels are determined by the Cabinet Office through secondary legislation.

How do I pay?

The payment demand will include payment details.

Do I need to register consultant lobbying of MPs or Ministers’ special advisers?

No. Lobbying of Members of Parliament falls outside the remit of the Registrar (unless the MP is also a Minister). The legislation allows for lobbying of special advisers to be included alongside Ministers and Permanent Secretaries by regulation, but this has not been enacted.

Is there a media list for journalists?

Yes. to opt in or out, email office@orcl.gov.uk giving your name, email address and organisation that you work for. 

Questions for existing registrants

What are my obligations once on the Register?

In simple terms, your responsibility is to keep your information on the Register up to date. You must supply information in a Quarterly Information Return (QIR) in the two-week period after the end of a quarter. This confirms whether or not you have undertaken (or been paid in advance for) consultant lobbying work during the preceding quarter and lists the clients concerned. You must also advise the Registrar of changes to the other statutory information in your published Register entry, including any change to your code of conduct declaration. Your legal obligation is to advise the Registrar of these changes in the QIR, but you should inform us of any changes to contact information immediately so that we can communicate with you properly.

What will I be asked in the QIR?

You will be required to:

  1. Login to your account and create a QIR
  2. Confirm you are authorised to complete the QIR and that you understand the QIR obligations under the Act. You can update your QIR throughout quarter, but can’t submit until the submission window is open.
  3. Submit client names if you have lobbied in return for payment or received payment to engage in lobbying. Otherwise declare a nil return.
  4. Confirm or update your business details.
  5. Confirm or update your affiliates list.
  6. Confirm or update any undertaking to comply with a relevant code of conduct.
  7. Submit form
  8. ORCL checks and publishes within four days of a completed QIR if there are no queries.

Can I correct my Quarterly Information Return once submitted?

Yes, though you will not be able to do so through your online Register account. Once the QIR has been submitted, if you need to make a correction, please email office@orcl.gov.uk with the details and we will amend your entry. If the correction is made after the QIR deadline and is an inaccuracy rather than for example, a typo, it is an offence under the Act and will be referred to the Registrar.

What if I miss the deadline for submitting my QIR?

Failure to provide accurate and complete information within the statutory time period is an offence under the Act, even if committed unintentionally. The requirements and timeframe for providing QIRs are clear and the Registrar is therefore very likely to issue a civil penalty for a missing, late, inaccurate or incomplete QIR.

What if I’m not sure whether an activity is registerable?

Generally, it’s safest to assume an activity is registerable, if you’re not sure. Review the Registrar’s guidance. If you’re still not sure, contact office@orcl.gov.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

When is the annual renewal fee to remain on the Register due?

The registration fee applies for a full calendar year, so we send out fee renewal notices in November and you must pay this by 31 December. If you do not pay your fee before 1 January you will be removed from the Register with effect from that date and will need to re-register before you can legally undertake any consultant lobbying work.

Will I be removed from the Register if I am not actively undertaking consultant lobbying work?

The Registrar understands that some registrants may not undertake consultant lobbying activity in every quarter. After two consecutive QIRs declaring that no consultant lobbying was undertaken or paid for during the period, the registrant will be marked in the Register as ‘This registrant has completed nil returns for the last six or more months’, but will remain registered and therefore able to provide consultant lobbying services legally in future.

How do I leave the Register?

Contact the Office by email to office@orcl.gov.uk. You can leave from the date you email us or from a future date. You cannot backdate the date you leave. Your leaving date will be used to calculate and issue you a pro rata refund for the remainder of that calendar year’s registration fee.

What other organisations operate in this field?

The Registrar is the only statutory body concerned with registration of consultant lobbying activity in relation to UK Government Ministers and Permanent Secretaries. However, you might find the following useful:

  • CIPR: The Chartered Institute of Public Relations is a Royal Chartered body for public relations professionals. www.cipr.co.uk
  • House of Lords Commissioner for Standards: investigates alleged breaches of the House of Lords Code of Conduct. www.parliament.uk
  • Ministers’ and Permanent Secretaries’ external meetings: these are published quarterly and are available through each individual department’s website. Open Access UK (operated by Transparency International UK) is a searchable database of the ministerial information. www.transparency.org.uk
  • Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards: oversees the MPs’ Code of Conduct and the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. www.parliament.uk
  • PRCA: PRCA is a professional body for PR and its Public Affairs Board operates the Public Affairs Register. www.prca.org.uk/publicaffairsboard
  • Scottish Parliament Lobbying Register: records face-to-face lobbying of MSPs, members of the Scottish Government, Special Advisers and the Permanent Secretary. www.lobbying.scot
  • Transparency International UK: operates Open Access UK which gathers published data on meetings with UK Government Ministers in a searchable database. www.transparency.org.uk
  • UK Lobbying Register: voluntary register run by CIPR. www.lobbying-register.uk

Consultation on the incidental exception and APPG secretariats March 2022

Category: Consultations - Thursday 21st April 2022

Registrar’s conclusions – 21 April 2022     From 3 March 2022 to 1 April 2022 the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists consulted on: The incidental exception All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) secretariats Responses to the consultation can be found here.   The Registrar has considered the responses in the context of his duties under the Act and has reached […]


Record of Registrar’s external communications in 2021

Category: Publications - Thursday 3rd February 2022

This is a record of external communications made by the Registrar, Harry Rich, during 2021. We do not publish information about correspondence with whistleblowers who wish to protect their anonymity nor privileged legal communications. The data is updated monthly.


Consultation responses and conclusions

Category: Consultations - Thursday 13th May 2021

The Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists consulted on guidance, codes of conduct and compliance in February and March 2021.  You can view the responses received to the consultation and the Registrar’s conclusions in light of those responses, in the following downloadable documents. The Registrar will publish updated guidance in due course and current guidance remains in […]


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

Category: News - Friday 20th May 2022

Introduction 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? Registering and keeping information up to date 3.1. […]


Business Plan 2022/23

Category: Corporate documents - Wednesday 27th April 2022

This document sets out the key priorities of the Registrar to ensure continued compliance with the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 during the 2022-23 financial year.


Consultation on the incidental exception and APPG secretariats March 2022

Category: Consultations - Thursday 21st April 2022

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Summary of Investigation – Oxford CCW

Category: Investigation summaries - Friday 1st April 2022

February – April 2022 Organisation or Person Investigated The University of Oxford Changing Character of War Centre (CCW) Matter(s) Investigated Whether CCW is an unregistered consultant lobbyist Registrar’s Decision CCW has not conducted consultant lobbying activities. Summary of Rationale for Decision This decision is based on substantive assurances from CCW that they have not communicated […]


Registrar’s consultation now extended to 1 April

Category: Consultations - Monday 28th March 2022

Registrar’s consultation now extended to 1 April


Summary of Investigation – Ensus UK Limited

Category: Investigation summaries - Friday 25th March 2022

February – March 2022 Organisation or Person Investigated Ensus UK Limited (Ensus) Matter(s) Investigated Whether Ensus is an unregistered consultant lobbyist Registrar’s Decision Ensus is not a consultant lobbyist. Summary of Rationale for Decision Based on assurances given, that Ensus receives no payment for its role supporting the APPG for British Bioethanol (the APPG), Ensus […]


Summary of Investigation – UKPIA

Category: Investigation summaries - Thursday 24th March 2022

February – March 2022 Organisation or Person Investigated UK Petroleum Industry Association Limited (UKPIA) Matter(s) Investigated Whether UKPIA is an unregistered consultant lobbyist Registrar’s Decision Based on assurances given, UKPIA has not conducted consultant lobbying activities. Summary of Rationale for Decision UKPIA provided assurances that no registrable communications have been made in their secretariat role […]


Register of External Gifts and Hospitality

Category: External Gifts and Hospitality - Wednesday 16th March 2022

You can download below a record of all external gifts and hospitality for 2021/22 for the Registrar.


Consultation on the incidental exception and APPG secretariats – 3rd March to 1st April 2022

Category: Consultations - Thursday 3rd March 2022

A.      About the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists The purpose of the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists is to ensure that there is transparency in the engagement of consultant lobbyists with UK Government Ministers and Permanent Secretaries (and equivalents) on behalf of their clients, in accordance with the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and […]


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