Don’t get frozen out by the Scottish Lobbying Act

Last week, the BIA was all set to head North for the annual Scottish Life Sciences Awards Dinner and a lunch meeting with our members when the Beast from the East hit and all flights were grounded. So sadly, I didn’t get the opportunity to speak to our members about the Scottish Lobbying Act and how it could affect them. Instead, I’ve explained it all here so if you’re not too snowed under with work, do read on…

How to know if you’ve been lobbying

The Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016 comes into effect on 12 March and requires “regulated lobbying” to be recorded on an online, publicly-accessible register.

There are five key steps to deciding if you have taken part in “regulated lobbying”.

At the final step, there are exemptions that mean you will not need to record your activity on the register:

  1. You were raising an issue on your own behalf
  2. It was to an MSP representing the constituency or region in which your company operates~*
  3. Your organisation has less than 10 full-time equivalent employees*
  4. It was part of formal proceedings of the Parliament or required under statute
  5. The communications were requested
  6. It was discussing negotiations of terms & conditions of employment
  7. It was for the purposes of journalism
  8. It was during a quorate meeting of a Cross-Party Group
  9. It was part of a communications by a political party


~ doesn’t apply if the MSP is also a member of the Scottish Government

* doesn’t apply to communications on behalf of a third party

Register your lobbying before it snowballs on you

If, after going through the above steps, you decide you have engaged in regulated lobbying, you will need to record it at within six months of the activity. Your organisation will need to setup an account with a shared username (email address) and password. You will then need to enter some details of each lobbying event:

  • Where and when it took place
  • Who was involved
  • A summary of what was discussed

If you don’t report your lobbying you’ll be skating on thin ice

New rules and requirements like this often get a frosty reception but this isn’t too arduous. However, if you fail to report your lobbying, your organisation you could face a fine of up to £3,000.

We advise you to make sure all members of staff are aware of this new requirement if they are likely to come into contact with Scottish Parliamentarians, members of the government or top civil servants. 

Please do take a look at the official guidance to see if you need to take any action. The lobbying register’s website has videos and FAQs, and the staff at the register office are also very helpful on the phone (0131 348 5408) or email (

As for our visit to Scotland, the BIA team is already looking at new dates to visit our members and we’re looking forward to the rearranged dinner and we will be looking to rearrange our BIA event in the near future. 

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