08 July 2020

Companies across the UK are facing unprecedented challenges in continuing corporate business in the face of the measures introduced by the government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Burges Salmon’s helpline is set to support the firm’s clients in adapting to these measures in the short-term as well as answering questions relating to holding general meetings during the Coronavirus crisis.

The new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act has introduced temporary measures permitting companies and other entities to hold virtual general meetings. Some of these measures may become increasingly common features of general meetings, even after the immediate disruption of Coronavirus has passed. In particular, ‘hybrid’ meetings, in which a portion of a company’s shareholders attend a general meeting in person and another do so virtually, might become a preferred format.

With businesses adjusting to the pandemic and legislation evolving to facilitate this, companies will begin to reassess their approach to general meetings in both the short and long term. The Burges Salmon Corporate team has implemented its COVID-19 General Meetings Helpline for new and existing clients to discuss specific COVID-19-related issues and potential solutions for preparing for the ‘new normal’.

Burges Salmon partner Nick Graves, who leads the Corporate practice, comments: “We are receiving increasing numbers of enquiries from public and private companies around the changing law and custom in relation to general meetings, particularly AGMs, as a result of the circumstances presented by COVID-19. We have launched our helpline to support our clients with the unprecedented challenges their companies are facing and to help find solutions for holding general meetings, whether during the pandemic or in the ‘new normal’ to come.”

Get in touch with one of our key contacts to discuss what issues the pandemic might present for your future general meetings and what potential solutions there might be for you:

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (“CIGA”)

CIGA came into force on 26 June 2020 and introduces some temporary relaxations of company law requirements around general meetings (including annual general meetings).

Read our article here on the provisions of CIGA relating to meetings, published when the proposals were introduced. Further guidance on these provisions was published jointly by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Financial Reporting Council, as we also reported here.

With retrospective effect from 26 March 2020 and until 30 September 2020 (unless extended), any entity to which CIGA applies (including private and public companies) is now able to hold ‘closed’ general meetings on a virtual basis. The government has published a guidance page for CIGA which can be found here.

Key contact

Rupert Weston

Rupert Weston Partner

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