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Company law relaxed to allow remote shareholder meetings

Emergency legislation passed by the Dáil is to be signed into law by President Higgins

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Importantly for many firms, the law permits meetings to be held electronically even if a company's constitution does not allow them. Stock image: PA

Importantly for many firms, the law permits meetings to be held electronically even if a company's constitution does not allow them. Stock image: PA

Importantly for many firms, the law permits meetings to be held electronically even if a company's constitution does not allow them. Stock image: PA

Companies will no longer obliged to hold physical annual general meetings, extraordinary general meetings or creditors meeting, once emergency legislation passed by the Dáil is signed into law by President Higgins.

The temporary changes to company law will relax a number of rules for the rest of this year, to mitigate the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic.

It allows for company general meetings to be postponed until the end of the year or run electronically.

The 70 to 100 days a company get under examinership to put its affairs in order is temporarily increased to 150, and the law raises the debt bar at which a creditor can issue a so called statutory demand – which could lead to a business being shut.

General meetings - including annual and extraordinary meetings – and creditors meeting where liquidators are appointed, can be held electronically "provided all those entitled to attend have a reasonable opportunity to participate".

Importantly for many firms, the law permits meetings to be held electronically even if a company's constitution does not allow them.

Directors had said they were caught in a ‘catch 22’ without the new law because they are obliged to hold the events under company law but banned from holding them because of Covid 19.

The general bill of a scheme to make amendments to the Companies Act to cater for the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will affect 240,000 companies and 950 industrial and provident societies.

The changes introduced will see a temporary increase in the amount at which a creditor can issue a statutory demand, from €10,000 to €50,000 for an individual debt, or from €20,000 to €50,000 for aggregate debts owed to a single creditor.

The amendments to the Companies Act will also permit documents that are normally required to be executed under seal to be signed in separate counterparts.

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