On 26th June 2020, the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act came into force, making temporary changes to the governance and regulation of incorporated organisations, due to COVID-19 restrictions. This included relaxing the position on general meetings, allowing companies and CIOs more flexibility on when to hold them and how to hold them.
The flexibilities on how members’ meetings are held have recently been extended until 30 March 2021.
We recommend you read this article with our free advice note on remote members’ meetings and voting which outlines the flexibilities available and goes into the issues raised below in greater detail.
What is the Act’s purpose?
The Act is designed to make temporary changes to the law relating to the governance and regulation of incorporated organisations. Many of these changes are related to companies who are in financial trouble so they can maximise their chance of surviving in the current economic climate. However, there are some changes to the regulations which govern how CIOs and companies hold meetings.
How will the Act affect us?
The government has already produced guidance for charity trustees regarding how to conduct trustee meetings during this time (see our article ‘Making Decisions as Trustees During Covid-19’). What about members’ meetings or AGMs? This new bill is temporarily relaxing some requirements for CIOs and companies, meaning you should be able to comply with the law regarding charity meetings while keeping your members safe.
So, what can you do if you are supposed to meet for an AGM soon as a church or organisation? How can you do this safely?
For any AGMs scheduled to take place on or before March 30th 2020, you can meet electronically even if your governing documents don’t stipulate this. So, you can meet via Skype, Zoom, Teams or a similar platform and still hold a valid AGM.
If you were hoping to postpone your AGM using the flexibility previously afforded under the Act, note that the extension of the period of flexibility does not apply to the postponement of AGMs. As such, from October 1st, you cannot delay your AGM and you must hold it by the date required under your governing documents.
Where can I find further information?
This new Act also makes some temporary changes to the deadlines for charitable companies filing accounts and other notices with Companies House. For more information about this see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/corporate-insolvency-and-governance-bill-2020-factsheets/companies-house-filings
If you want to know more about this legislation, see the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s guidance ‘Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill 2020: factsheets’.
The Charity Commission’s Coronavirus guidance covers members’ meetings: Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for the charity sector – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)