New rules for meetings and documents give flexibility

Thousands of Australia’s registered charities will enjoy greater flexibility when staging meetings – as well as signing and executing documents – through recent amendments to federal legislation.

The changes are included in the Corporations Amendment (Meetings and Documents) Act, and cover charities that are registered under the Corporations Act.

The amendments make permanent temporary laws first introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing companies to execute and send documents electronically and hold virtual meetings.

The changes mean that:

  • Documents (including deeds) may be executed by signing either physically or electronically
  • A person will not be required to sign the same form or page of a document as another person, or use the same method of signing as another person
  • Agents (authorised representatives) may execute documents on behalf of companies without appointment by deed and without using a common seal
  • Documents may be sent physically or electronically, and
  • Companies may hold meetings physically or as a ‘hybrid’ (using one or more physical venues and virtual-meeting technology). Wholly virtual meetings are also permitted if expressly provided for in a company’s constitution.

Changes relating to signing and executing documents came into effect on 23 February. Changes about meetings come into effect on 1 April.

While the amendments provide a minimum standard, charities’ governing documents may require more.  Charities must continue to comply with them, and those that are corporations could consider reviewing governing documents and seeking legal advice.