Govt unveils new laws that permit virtual meetings, e-signatures
The Australian Government has released exposure draft legislation to support companies and their officers using technology to satisfy the requirements of the Corporations Act 2001. This legislation will facilitate the use of technology in meetings, to execute company documents and send meeting-related materials. The new reforms will also make permanent the temporary measures put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic relating to electronic execution of company documents and meeting notifications.
Building on these reforms, the exposure draft will also make it clear that companies can hold hybrid meetings; make it clear that members, as a whole, must be given a reasonable opportunity to participate in meetings whether the meeting is a physical meeting, a hybrid meeting or a virtual meeting; ensure that using a show of hands is the default method for voting at physical and hybrid meetings; and allow members who hold at least a 5% of voting capital to have polls independently scrutinised. These changes will provide enhanced opportunities for shareholders to participate in and scrutinise company meetings.
The exposure draft legislation also includes further reforms to modernise business communications by allowing sole directors who are not appointed as the company secretary to electronically execute documents, delivering on a commitment to improve the technology neutrality of Treasury portfolio laws. Consultation will close on 16 July 2021.
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