Government extends temporary relief measures for virtual AGMS and electronic signatures


    In the wake of the banking Royal Commission, a new regulatory body responsible for monitoring ASIC's accountability is up for debate.

    The previous relief measures were due to expire on 5 November which is part-way through the 2020 AGM season for listed entities.

    Earlier in July, the AICD wrote to the Federal Treasurer encouraging an extension to the temporary relief to facilitate virtual AGMs, electronic communications and electronic signatures.

    AICD CEO and Managing Director, Angus Armour, said, “This is a very welcome step which is indicative of the Government listening to the needs of business and its ability to respond quickly to changing circumstances.”

    Under the extension of the temporary relief measures, companies will continue to:

    • provide notice of annual general meetings to shareholders using email;
    • achieve a quorum with shareholders attending online; and
    • hold annual general meetings online.

    Meetings must continue to provide shareholders with a reasonable opportunity to participate. Shareholders will continue to be able to put questions to board members and vote online.

    To execute documents, company officers will continue to be able to sign documents electronically, so for the duration of the extended relief, signatories will not be required to sign the same physical document. This will ensure that documents can continue to be properly executed at a time when ordinary business operations have been disrupted.

    “Given the on-going and challenges faced by business, particularly as lockdowns continue in Victoria and NSW is placed on high alert, this extension will provide much-needed certainty for organisations’ forward planning and allow the flow of commerce to continue as smoothly as possible as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis,” Mr Armour said.

    The current temporary relief measures will be extended for a further six months so that they expire on 21 March 2021.

    See AICD article outlining the temporary relief measures and the AICD’s Director Tool on Virtual AGMs.

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