Virtual AGMS AllowedPost in Community by Tina Hartley
What are we going to do?
We are making it easier for companies and other bodies like building societies and charities to comply with legal requirements on holding Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and other meetings while keeping their shareholders and members safe.
How are we going to do it?
We are relaxing some of the requirements which would make it difficult, if not impossible, to hold these sorts of meetings in accordance with the Government’s social distancing legislation and guidelines.
What does this mean in practice?
Most notably it means that, for a temporary period, companies and other bodies will be able to suspend shareholders’ and members’ ability to attend meetings in person and that they will be able to convene meetings in a flexible way using a range of technologies. If, for example, your organisation has a deadline to hold an AGM before the end of July, it can postpone that meeting to any later date before the end of September and/or it can arrange to hold a meeting with a restricted number of participants communicating between different locations.
Thousands of companies and other bodies are required by the law or by their constitutions to hold an AGM which, in some cases, can be attended by upwards of a thousand members. Failure to do so has potential legal consequences or those appointed to senior ranking positions in those bodies, such as company directors. It is clearly challenging for such meetings to go ahead as normal in the face of current legal requirements and guidelines restricting movement and gatherings.
In addition to AGMs, the measures apply to other meetings of members such as accounts meetings, other general meetings and class meetings of companies.
It is, important for companies and other bodies, and the economy as a whole, that these meetings can take place and that key business decisions can continue to be taken.
Who does it apply to?
The flexibilities the Government is providing will be available to companies, to “mutuals” such as building societies and friendly societies, and to charities known as Charitable Incorporated Organisations.
How long will these measures last?
The flexibilities provided by these measures will be available until the end of September.
How will the right of shareholders and members be protected if they can’t attend meetings as they normally would?
People’s safety and well-being is paramount. While members might be prevented from attending meetings they will still have the ability and the right to express their views by voting on the matters brought before the meeting.