In the current climate of COVID-19, and with meetings of three or more persons restricted in the UK by government advice, many companies are wrestling with the problems of holding their general meetings. This is particularly so for those who are required to hold their meetings within a prescribed timeframe, and this period is running out. 

It would once have been unthinkable that a company could conduct a meeting otherwise than with all attendees in person, and with proxy forms as the only other alternative for shareholders wanting to participate. There are, however, now a number of other technical options available to companies such as hosting meetings by teleconference or videoconference.  

Companies should consider their constitutional documents, and what these permit in terms of alternatives for hosting shareholder meetings. The current government standard articles of association for private companies, for example, give some flexibility for those companies who have adopted them, and directors would do well to familiarise themselves with the provisions as they apply to their company. The key is usually to ensure all participants can hear one another and be heard as required.

Finally, this may be an appropriate time for companies to consider amending their articles of association to expressly permit hybrid meetings (part physical, part-virtual), giving clarity to all stakeholders as to how the process will be run, and how they can participate in the meeting.