Government extends relief for electronic document execution

Thursday, 19 August, 2021

Government extends relief for electronic document execution

The Australian Government has taken steps to reinstate temporary measures that will allow companies to use technology to meet regulatory requirements to hold general meetings, distribute meeting-related materials and validly execute documents. Dr Jacoba Brash QC, President of the Law Council of Australia, said these arrangements, found within Schedule 1 of the Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No. 1) Bill 2021, restore important measures previously introduced in May 2020 at the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Brash added that the amendments provide a response to the practical, regulatory and legal problems facing the corporate sector and investors because of lockdowns and restrictions on movement.

“With the AGM season upon us, these measures, when passed by the House of Representatives, will allow companies to comply with their reporting obligations without having to grapple with the logistics of hosting large in-person gatherings in the context of social distancing and lockdowns,” Dr Brash said.

Dr Brash noted that these measures have been shown to have clear benefits for companies and their investors in times when the economy is under stress.

“The Law Council is also extremely pleased that earlier this year, Commonwealth, state and territory treasurers formally agreed to prioritise working together towards modernising and harmonising electronic document execution. The Law Council, together with its Business Law Section and Constituent Bodies are looking forward to working with the Australian Government on its deregulation agenda, which includes a specific focus on the modernisation of business communications,” Dr Brash said.

This reform program will help ensure that emergency measures, including document execution during the COVID-19 pandemic, are sensibly applied and implemented on a permanent basis.

Image credit: © Jirsák

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