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What allowances has the Government proposed for company meetings?

The Government’s Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act introduces amendments to the current rules for companies on holding meetings, to address the difficulties companies are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new provisions apply to meetings held between 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 (referred to as the “Relevant Period”). Subsequent regulations by the Government can be used to shorten this period or extend by up to 3 months but not past 5 April 2021.

The provisions will have retrospective effect, so meetings that were held after 26 March 2020 that may not have met the usual legal requirements due to lockdown, will be validated under these new provisions. These provisions under the Act make amends to relevant legislation and override a company’s articles of association.

For general meetings and certain other meetings of companies, the Act states that:

  • The meeting need not be held in any particular place;
  • The meeting may be held, and any votes may be cast, by electronic means or other means;
  • The meeting may be held without anyone being in the same place
  • Persons attending the meeting no longer have the following rights: the right to attend in person, the right to participate in the meeting other than by voting, or the right to vote by particular means.

The aim of these changes is to facilitate virtual meetings, and remove the need for a physical venue.

Where a company was required to hold its AGM between 26 March and 30 September 2020, it can be held at any time before 30 September 2020.  The Secretary of State has the power to make regulations to further extend the deadline.