Priority legislation aimed at mitigating the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on Irish companies has just been published in draft form. The government approved the General Scheme of the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020 this week with a view to early enactment of the legislation.

The new laws will for an "interim period" (ending on 31 December 2020, unless extended):

  • Enable documents under company seal to be executed in different counterparts.
  • Give extra time for companies to hold AGMs, explicitly enable them to hold general meetings by electronic means, and permit directors to withdraw a dividend resolution or to reduce the dividend proposed to be declared by resolution at a general meeting.
  • Increase the debt threshold for the commencement of a winding up by the court from an individual debt of €10,000, or aggregate debts of €20,000, to €50,000.
  • Facilitate the virtual holding of creditors' meetings in voluntary and other liquidations, examinerships, statutory schemes of arrangement under Part 9 of the Companies Act 2014 and other insolvency processes.
  • Enable the examiner of companies that go into examinership to have a longer period in which to make a report to the court. The maximum period of examinership may, in exceptional circumstances, extend from 100 to 150 days.
  • Expressly provide that directors of insolvent companies must have regard to the interests of creditors of the company and preserve the company's assets.

The Company Law Review Group, on which Corporate partner Emma Doherty sits, was involved in formulating the proposals now adopted by government.  Matheson welcomes these developments which aim to protect viable businesses, retain employment and support economic recovery post-crisis.

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