Parliament: Virtual AGMs, shareholder meetings can continue until June 30 next year

SINGAPORE – Alternative arrangements to hold virtual annual general meetings (AGMs) and shareholder meetings can continue regardless of whether Covid-19 restrictions are in place.

This was among the amendments to the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act that were passed urgently in Parliament on Friday (Sept 4).

During the second reading of the amendment Bill, Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong said his ministry intends to extend the time frame to allow alternative arrangements for such meetings until June 30 next year.

Currently, companies, societies and charities are allowed to do so until Sept 30. Before the amendments, alternative meeting arrangements under the Act were tied to the duration of a Covid-19 control order.

Mr Tong said an extension will give these entities the option to hold virtual meetings, even when physical meetings are allowed under the prevailing Covid-19 regulations, and will help to lower the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

Other amendments passed on Friday include extension of deadlines for collective sales specified under the Land Titles (Strata Act) on a case-by-case basis through ministerial orders.

In addition, assessors appointed by the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) will now have enhanced powers to specify the amount of rent waiver in some cases when dealing with landlord-tenant disputes under the rental relief framework.

The amendments also clarify that once an an application for relief is made for some contracts affected by breaches or delays in construction, supply or related contracts, parties cannot start other legal proceedings, until the application is rejected or withdrawn or until a determination is made by an assessor.

Adjudicators for the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act (Sopa) are now also given the same powers as MinLaw-appointed assessors to adjust contract terms in these cases.

Mr Tong said this will lower the risk of having parallel proceedings, and allow for just and equitable outcomes from the resolution of disputes in Sopa proceedings.

Several People’s Action Party (PAP) MPs rose to speak in support of the amendment Bill, with Mr Murali Pillai asking if MinLaw would extend the relief period for individuals and businesses from their contractual obligations beyond October this year.

Replying, Mr Tong said the ministry would monitor the situation before deciding whether to extend the relief period.

“We have to bear in mind that it’s intrusive to step in to intervene with parties’ contracts. So we do that judiciously and we always have to keep an eye or whether or not it’s appropriate, what is the right level of intervention, and whether… the circumstances require the intervention,” said Mr Tong.

He also noted that the number of notifications for relief has declined in July and August, compared to May and June.

This could be due to fewer disputes between parties, or people are now more educated on the relief framework and are better at negotiating the terms of their contracts, he said.

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