COVID-19: New legislation proposed to allow alternative arrangements for business meetings

The move comes after business owners voiced concerns about how they should comply with new COVID-19 rules on gatherings while also acting in accordance with legal provisions governing meetings, said a joint media statement by Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Law on Tuesday (31 March). (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Businesses holding meetings for which personal attendance is required by law will soon be allowed to make alternative arrangements under new legislation set to be introduced by the Singapore government at the next Parliament sitting.

The move comes after business owners voiced concerns about how they should comply with new COVID-19 rules on gatherings while also acting in accordance with legal provisions governing meetings, said a joint media statement by Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Law on Tuesday (31 March).

Examples of such meetings include those under the Companies Act and company constitutions (such as annual general meetings and extraordinary general meetings), meetings held under trust deeds, creditor’s meetings and meetings held under the trade union’s rules.

Subject to Parliament’s approval during next week’s sitting, the proposed provisions will allow for alternative arrangements to be prescribed. Meetings should minimally adopt the following:

  • Allow and strongly encourage attendance at meetings using tele-conferencing, video-conferencing, or other electronic means;

  • Allow meeting attendees to appoint their proxies using electronic means, such as by e-mail;

  • Allow meeting attendees with rights to participate to exercise these rights to the extent possible and appropriate, such as by allowing questions to be submitted by e-mail in advance, and responses to be conveyed by tele-conferencing, video-conferencing, or other electronic means;

  • If voting is required, strongly encourage meeting attendees to vote by proxy, or (if available) by electronic modes of voting; and

  • Provide meeting attendees with access to meeting materials.

The prescribed alternative arrangements are intended to help those who face challenges in complying with the prevailing safe distancing measures, and are not intended to be mandatory.

If entities are already able to comply with the prevailing safe distancing measures, in accordance with the provisions in written law and their existing legal instruments, they should do so.

If passed, the proposed provisions are intended to be brought into force as soon as possible.

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