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'Lobbying' is defined as a form of advocacy that is intended to influence decisions made by the government. Lobbying can be undertaken by individuals or or by organisations.

What is Regulated Lobbying?

The Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016 came into effect on 12 March 2018.

The Act is intended to bring about greater openness and transparency, having emerged against the backdrop of controversial incidents involving lobbyists, mainly relating to the Westminster Parliament and corporate lobbyists. The Act’s influence extends to the third and voluntary sector, which addresses anxieties raised with respect to the role of charities and their access to and perceived influence over government policy.

The infographic below helps to identify activities that constitute 'regulated lobbying'.

1. You have undertaken oral, face-to-face communication with MSPs, Scottish Government Ministers, Special Advisers and the Permanent Secretary.

Only oral communication, undertaken on a paid basis, is covered by the Act. Emails, letters, tweets, phone calls or other forms of communication do not constitute regulated lobbying. The Act does not limit where or when regulated lobbying may take place and the guidance suggests speeches at events with MSPs, or those with a stake in the comments, could be considered regulated lobbying.

2. Your communication was in relation to Scottish Government or Scottish parliamentary functions, meaning any discussions you have in relation to:

  • Legislation 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
  • matters an MSP can take forward inside or outside the Scottish Parliament.

3. You used the opportunity to inform or influence decisions on behalf of your organisation (or those you represent).

The nature of the conversation is important, as not all conversations are ‘regulated lobbying’. IN this instance, museum staff would be required to make a judgement on whether your conversation sought to influence policy or decision-making, mindful that recording ‘regulated lobbying’ is a legal requirement.

4. You are a paid individual, representing the views of your organisation (or those you represent).

Trustees, Boards of Directors, and volunteers are exempt.

5. If you are certain the activity which you are undertaking is not covered by an exemption to the Act.

In all circumstances where this is not the case, your activity should be registered.

Registering Lobbying

A Lobbying Register has been established under the Act, which requires organisations to record any 'Regulated Lobbying' they undertake. The register is a publicly available website, detailing lobbying undertaken by organisations or where an MSP has been lobbied.  Regulated lobbying should be logged within 6 months of the Act coming into effect and on a 6-monthly basis thereafter.


If you are unsure of whether your actions constitute Regulated Lobbying, please contact:

Greg McCracken

Policy & Public Affairs Manager

0131 550 4123