Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions (Covid-19) Act 2020

General meetings during interim period

6. Part 4 of the Act of 2014 is amended, in Chapter 6, by the insertion in that Chapter of the following section before section 175:

“174A. (1) This section (including any regulations made thereunder) shall apply to the general meetings of a company during the interim period only and shall so apply notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or of the company’s constitution.

(2) This section is in addition to, and does not derogate from, the provisions of subsection (3) of section 175.

(3) If, as respects the year 2020, the requirement to hold an annual general meeting (the ‘relevant requirement’) would, but for this subsection, fall to be complied with by a company on a date in that year (the ‘relevant date’) that is earlier than 31 December 2020, then the company may opt to satisfy the relevant requirement by its holding the annual general meeting on a date that is a date subsequent to the relevant date (but that is not a date later than 31 December 2020).

(4) Where a company opts to avail itself of subsection (3), section 341(2) shall apply to the company as if, in that section, the words ‘at the meeting last-mentioned in section 174A(3)’ were substituted for the words ‘not later than 9 months after the financial year end date’.

(5) A company need not hold a general meeting at a physical venue but may conduct the meeting wholly or partly by the use of electronic communications technology as long as all attendees have a reasonable opportunity to participate in the meeting in accordance with this section.

(6) (a) A company may provide for participation in a general meeting by providing or facilitating, for that purpose, the use of electronic communications technology, including a mechanism for casting votes by a member, whether before or during the meeting.

(b) The mechanism referred to in paragraph (a) shall not require the member to be physically present at the general meeting or require the member to appoint a proxy who is to be physically present at the meeting.

(7) The use of electronic communications technology pursuant to subsection (6) may be made subject only to such requirements or restrictions put in place by the company as are necessary to ensure the identification of attendees and the security of the electronic communications technology, to the extent that such requirements or restrictions are proportionate to the achievement of those objectives.

(8) A company shall inform attendees, before the general meeting concerned, of any requirements or restrictions which it has put in place pursuant to subsection (7).

(9) A company that provides for the use of electronic communications technology for participation in a general meeting by an attendee shall ensure, as far as practicable, that—

(a) such technology—

(i) provides for the security of any electronic communications by the attendee,

(ii) minimises the risk of data corruption and unauthorised access, and

(iii) provides certainty as to the source of the electronic communications,

(b) in the case of any failure or disruption of such technology, that failure or disruption is remedied as soon as practicable, and

(c) such technology enables the attendee to—

(i) hear what is said by the chairperson of the meeting and any person introduced by the chairperson, and

(ii) speak and submit questions and comments during the meeting to the chairperson to the extent that the attendee is entitled to do so under the constitution of the company.

(10) Any temporary failure or disruption of electronic communications technology shall not invalidate the general meeting or any proceedings relating to the meeting.

(11) Unless such failure or disruption is attributable to any wilful act of the company, a company shall not be liable in respect of any failure or disruption relating to the equipment used by an attendee to access a general meeting by electronic communications technology that occurs and which failure or disruption prevents or interferes with the attendee’s participation, by way of such technology, in the meeting.

(12) Where, in the opinion of the directors of a company, it is deemed necessary—

(a) in order to comply with the public health guidance of the Government or regulations made under sections 5 and 31A of the Health Act 1947 in respect of the movement or gathering of persons for the purposes of preventing, limiting, minimising or slowing the spread of Covid-19, the directors may, at any time up to the end of the day prior to the day on which a general meeting is to be held and in accordance with section 181A—

(i) cancel the meeting,

(ii) change the venue of the meeting, or

(iii) change the means of holding the meeting (including providing for facilitating attendees to participate in such meeting by way of electronic communications technology),


(b) due to exceptional and unexpected circumstances, the directors may cancel such meeting at any time prior to the holding of that meeting.

(13) The Minister may, if he or she considers it appropriate, by regulations make further provision for all or any of the following in relation to general meetings to be held by way of electronic communications technology:

(a) the convening and conduct of the meetings;

(b) attendance at the meetings;

(c) access to and participation in the meetings.

(14) In this section and sections 181(5)(aa), 181A, 182(2A), 186A, 195A and 1103(2)(aa)—

‘attendee’, in relation to a general meeting of a company, means—

(a) a member of the company,

(b) a proxy of a member of the company,

(c) an authorised person representing a body corporate under section 185,

(d) the auditor, or

(e) a person entitled to attend the meeting by virtue of provisions in the constitution of the company or the terms of issue of debt securities issued by the company;

‘electronic communications technology’, in relation to a general meeting of a company, means technology that enables real time transmission and real time two-way audio-visual or audio communication enabling attendees as a whole with a reasonable opportunity to participate in the meeting using such technology from a remote location;

‘electronic platform’, in relation to a general meeting of a company, means an electronic system for the delivery of audio-visual or audio communication, including websites, access software and access telephone details or any other electronic technology that delivers such communication;

‘general meeting’, in relation to a company, means any of the following:

(a) an annual general meeting of the company;

(b) an extraordinary general meeting of the company;

(c) a general meeting of holders of shares in the company of a particular class;

(d) a scheme meeting (within the meaning of section 449),

and includes a meeting referred to in paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d) that has been rescheduled.”.