The Representation of the People Act 1983 (RPA) regulates the conduct of candidates, and people who can reasonably be regarded in law as promoting candidates, in general and local elections. It also contains provisions as to the administration of elections by returning officers, and the mechanism for challenging elections through election petitions. The RPA is supplemented by regulations and other statutory instruments that focus on the detailed operation of particular elements of elections.
The conduct of candidates in elections to the devolved legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is regulated by other legislation that is closely based upon the RPA.
The Political Parties, Referendums and Elections Act 2000 (PPERA) regulates more general activity which can reasonably be regarded as intended to influence voters to vote for or against particular parties or categories of candidates. Its enactment established, for the first time, an independent Electoral Commission to regulate political parties and their funding arrangements. PPERA requires parties to submit statements of their accounts on a regular basis, and provides for national limits on campaign expenditure by political parties. It was amended by the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 (known as the Lobbying Act) which brought in new rules regarding the activity of lobbying and non-party campaigning.
Activity by private businesses which has an impact on government and elections, through campaigns, donations and lobbying, is also regulated by certain provisions within the Companies Act 2006. This Act captures scenarios where companies incurs political expenditure which could be reasonably regarded as intended to persuade people to vote for a particular party.
Elected officials, candidates in elections, returning officers and businesses requiring advice on electoral law should get in touch with our Parliamentary and Election Law team of specialists with decades of experiencing this very niche field. Call 020 7803 3999 and ask for Gerald Shamash, Kevin Bonavia or Axel Landin.