General meetings

Company Law Solutions can advise as to the procedures at general meetings and provide all necessary documents and forms.

A general meeting is a meeting of a company's shareholders (unlike a board meeting, which is a meeting of the directors). Companies Act 2006, Part 13 (comprising 80 sections) provides the statutory framework for the calling and conduct of general meetings. Note, too, that resolutions can also be passed as written resolutions (without having a general meeting) and there is now no statutory requirement for a private company to hold an Annual General Meeting, unless the articles make provision for one to be held.

For any particular company, the statutory rules are supplemented by that company's articles. Many companies have the provisions of the Model Articles (articles drafted from 1.10.2009) or Table A (older companies), either completely or with some amendment.

Types of meetings
There are two types of general meetings: Annual General Meetings and Extraordinary General Meetings.

Annual General Meetings
There is no requirement for a private company to hold an AGM, though some companies' articles, drafted when there was a statutory requirement to hold an AGM, will still provide for one to be held. In such cases the company must continue to comply with its articles until they are amended. There is nothing to stop a company to hold an AGM even if it is not required to do so.
The usual business of an AGM is to receive the annual accounts and directors' report and, in some companies to elect directors and/or auditors. Even if there is not going to be an AGM to discuss the accounts, they still have to be distributed to the shareholders.

Extraordinary General Meetings
An Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) is any meeting other than an Annual General Meeting (AGM). The directors may call general meetings when they wish (CA 2006, sec302) andmust call a meeting of members holding one-tenth of the voting shares or one-tenth of the voting rights request one (sec303 - sec304). If the directors do not call a meeting when so required, the members can call one themselves (sec305). If all else fails, the court can call a meeting (sec306).

Procedures
These vary from company to company and are determined by the interplay of the Companies Act and the articles.

There are stautory rules governing the period of notice that must be given for a meeting (sec307 - sec313). The minimum stautory period for any type of meeting is now 14 days (sec307), though a company's articles may require a longer period, and a meeting can be held on short notice with the written consent of a majority (90 or 95%, depending on the articles) of the members.

The Act provides rules on the right of members to distribute statements (sec314 - sec317), the quorum (sec318), chairman (sec319 - sec20), voting procedures (sec321 - sec322), corporate representatives (sec323), proxies (sec324 - sec331), adjournment (sec332) and electronic communications (sec333). The statutory provisions must be read in conjunction with the company's articles, which in many cases will be based on either the Model Articles or Table A, depending on whether the aryocles were drafted before or after 1.10.2009.

Model Articles provisions on general meetings

ORGANISATION OF GENERAL MEETINGS
37. Attendance and speaking at general meetings
38. Quorum for general meetings
39. Chairing general meetings
40. Attendance and speaking by directors and non-shareholders
41. Adjournment

VOTING AT GENERAL MEETINGS
42. Voting: general
43. Errors and disputes
44. Poll votes
45. Content of proxy notices
46. Delivery of proxy notices
47. Amendments to resolutions

Attendance and speaking at general meetings
37. (1) A person is able to exercise the right to speak at a general meeting when that person is in a position to communicate to all those attending the meeting, during the meeting, any information or opinions which that person has on the business of the meeting.
(2) A person is able to exercise the right to vote at a general meeting when-
(a) that person is able to vote, during the meeting, on resolutions put to the vote at the meeting, and
(b) that person's vote can be taken into account in determining whether or not such resolutions are passed at the same time as the votes of all the other persons attending the meeting.
(3) The directors may make whatever arrangements they consider appropriate to enable those attending a general meeting to exercise their rights to speak or vote at it.
(4) In determining attendance at a general meeting, it is immaterial whether any two or more members attending it are in the same place as each other.
(5) Two or more persons who are not in the same place as each other attend a general meeting if their circumstances are such that if they have (or were to have) rights to speak and vote at that meeting, they are (or would be) able to exercise them.

Quorum for general meetings
38. No business other than the appointment of the chairman of the meeting is to be transacted at a general meeting if the persons attending it do not constitute a quorum.

Chairing general meetings
39. (1) If the directors have appointed a chairman, the chairman shall chair general meetings if present and willing to do so.

(2) If the directors have not appointed a chairman, or if the chairman is unwilling to chair the meeting or is not present within ten minutes of the time at which a meeting was due to start-
(a) the directors present, or
(b) (if no directors are present), the meeting,
must appoint a director or shareholder to chair the meeting, and the appointment of the chairman of the meeting must be the first business of the meeting.
(3) The person chairing a meeting in accordance with this article is referred to as "the chairman of the meeting".

Attendance and speaking by directors and non-shareholders
40. (1) Directors may attend and speak at general meetings, whether or not they are shareholders.
(2) The chairman of the meeting may permit other persons who are not-
(a) shareholders of the company, or
(b) otherwise entitled to exercise the rights of shareholders in relation to general meetings,
to attend and speak at a general meeting.

Adjournment
41. (1) If the persons attending a general meeting within half an hour of the time at which the meeting was due to start do not constitute a quorum, or if during a meeting a quorum ceases to be present, the chairman of the meeting must adjourn it.
(2) The chairman of the meeting may adjourn a general meeting at which a quorum is present if-
(a) the meeting consents to an adjournment, or
(b) it appears to the chairman of the meeting that an adjournment is necessary to protect the safety of any person attending the meeting or ensure that the business of the meeting is conducted in an orderly manner.
(3) The chairman of the meeting must adjourn a general meeting if directed to do so by the meeting.
(4) When adjourning a general meeting, the chairman of the meeting must-
(a) either specify the time and place to which it is adjourned or state that it is to continue at a time and place to be fixed by the directors, and
(b) have regard to any directions as to the time and place of any adjournment which have been given by the meeting.

(5) If the continuation of an adjourned meeting is to take place more than 14 days after it was adjourned, the company must give at least 7 clear days' notice of it (that is, excluding the day of the adjourned meeting and the day on which the notice is given)-
(a) to the same persons to whom notice of the company's general meetings is required to be given, and
(b) containing the same information which such notice is required to contain.
(6) No business may be transacted at an adjourned general meeting which could not properly have been transacted at the meeting if the adjournment had not taken place.

VOTING AT GENERAL MEETINGS
Voting: general

42. A resolution put to the vote of a general meeting must be decided on a show of hands unless a poll is duly demanded in accordance with the articles.

Errors and disputes
43. (1) No objection may be raised to the qualification of any person voting at a general meeting except at the meeting or adjourned meeting at which the vote objected to is tendered, and every vote not disallowed at the meeting is valid.
(2) Any such objection must be referred to the chairman of the meeting, whose decision is final.

Poll votes
44. (1) A poll on a resolution may be demanded-
(a) in advance of the general meeting where it is to be put to the vote, or
(b) at a general meeting, either before a show of hands on that resolution or immediately after the result of a show of hands on that resolution is declared.

(2) A poll may be demanded by-
(a) the chairman of the meeting;
(b) the directors;
(c) two or more persons having the right to vote on the resolution; or
(d) a person or persons representing not less than one tenth of the total voting rights of all the shareholders having the right to vote on the resolution.

(3) A demand for a poll may be withdrawn if-
(a) the poll has not yet been taken, and
(b) the chairman of the meeting consents to the withdrawal.

(4) Polls must be taken immediately and in such manner as the chairman of the meeting directs.

Content of proxy notices
45. (1) Proxies may only validly be appointed by a notice in writing (a "proxy notice") which-
(a) states the name and address of the shareholder appointing the proxy;
(b) identifies the person appointed to be that shareholder's proxy and the general meeting in relation to which that person is appointed;
(c) is signed by or on behalf of the shareholder appointing the proxy, or is authenticated in such manner as the directors may determine; and
(d) is delivered to the company in accordance with the articles and any instructions contained in the notice of the general meeting to which they relate.

(2) The company may require proxy notices to be delivered in a particular form, and may specify different forms for different purposes.

(3) Proxy notices may specify how the proxy appointed under them is to vote (or that the proxy is to abstain from voting) on one or more resolutions.

(4) Unless a proxy notice indicates otherwise, it must be treated as-
(a) allowing the person appointed under it as a proxy discretion as to how to vote on any ancillary or procedural resolutions put to the meeting, and
(b) appointing that person as a proxy in relation to any adjournment of the general meeting to which it relates as well as the meeting itself.

Delivery of proxy notices
46. (1) A person who is entitled to attend, speak or vote (either on a show of hands or on a poll) at a general meeting remains so entitled in respect of that meeting or any adjournment of it, even though a valid proxy notice has been delivered to the company by or on behalf of that person.

(2) An appointment under a proxy notice may be revoked by delivering to the company a notice in writing given by or on behalf of the person by whom or on whose behalf the proxy notice was given.

(3) A notice revoking a proxy appointment only takes effect if it is delivered before the start of the meeting or adjourned meeting to which it relates.

(4) If a proxy notice is not executed by the person appointing the proxy, it must be accompanied by written evidence of the authority of the person who executed it to execute it on the appointor's behalf.

Amendments to resolutions
47. (1) An ordinary resolution to be proposed at a general meeting may be amended by ordinary resolution if-
(a) notice of the proposed amendment is given to the company in writing by a person entitled to vote at the general meeting at which it is to be proposed not less than 48 hours before the meeting is to take place (or such later time as the chairman of the meeting may determine), and
(b) the proposed amendment does not, in the reasonable opinion of the chairman of the meeting, materially alter the scope of the resolution.

(2) A special resolution to be proposed at a general meeting may be amended by ordinary resolution, if-
(a) the chairman of the meeting proposes the amendment at the general meeting at which the resolution is to be proposed, and
(b) the amendment does not go beyond what is necessary to correct a grammatical or other non-substantive error in the resolution.

(3) If the chairman of the meeting, acting in good faith, wrongly decides that an amendment to a resolution is out of order, the chairman's error does not invalidate the vote on that resolution.

Table A provisions on general meetings
There have been many different versions of Table A. The version that applies to any particular company will depend on the company's date of incoporation orthe date on whiich the articles were adopted. From 1st. October 2008, provisions in Table A which conflicted with those of the Companies Act 2006 were omitted, so the previous version, which will still apply to many companies is used here.

General Meetings
Notice of general meetings
Proceedings at general meetings
Votes of members

General meetings
36. All general meetings other than annual general meetings shall be called extraordinary general meetings.
37. The directors may call general meetings and, on the requisition of members pursuant to the provisions of the Act, shall forthwith proceed to convene an extraordinary general meeting for a date not later than eight weeks after receipt of the requisition. If there are not within the United Kingdom sufficient directors to call a general meeting, any director or any member of the company may call a general meeting.

Notice of general meetings
38. An annual general meeting and an extraordinary general meeting called for the passing of a special resolution or a resolution appointing a person as a director shall be called by at least twenty-one clear days' notice. All other extraordinary general meetings shall be called by at least fourteen clear days' notice but a general meeting may be called by shorter notice if it is so agreed -
(a) in the case of an annual general meeting, by all the members who are entitled to attend and vote thereat; and
(b) in the case of any other meeting by a majority in number of the members having a right to attend and vote being a majority together holding not less than ninety-five per cent. in nominal value of the shares giving that right.
The notice shall specify the time and place of the meeting and the general nature of the business to be transacted and, in the case of an annual general meeting, shall specify the meeting as such.
Subject to the provisions of the articles and to any restrictions imposed on any shares, the notice shall be given to all the members, to all persons entitled to a share in consequence of the death or bankruptcy of a member and to the directors and auditors.
39. The accidental omission to give notice of a meeting to, or the non-receipt of notice of a meeting by, any person entitled to receive notice shall not invalidate the proceedings at that meeting.

Proceedings at general meetings
40. No business shall be transacted at any meeting unless a quorum is present. Two persons entitled to vote upon the business to be transacted, each being a member or a proxy for a member or a duly authorised representative of a corporation, shall be a quorum.
41. If such a quorum is not present within half an hour from the time appointed for the meeting, or if during a meeting such a quorum ceases to be present, the meeting shall stand adjourned to the same day in the next week at the same time and place or to such time and place as the directors may determine.
42. The chairman, if any, of the board of directors or in his absence some other director nominated by the directors shall preside as chairman of the meeting, but if neither the chairman nor such other director (if any) be present within fifteen minutes after the time appointed for holding the meeting and willing to act, the directors present shall elect one of their number to be chairman and, if there is only one director present and willing to act, he shall be chairman.
43. If no director is willing to act as chairman, or if no director is present within fifteen minutes after the time appointed for holding the meeting, the members present and entitled to vote
shall choose one of their number to be chairman.
44. A director shall, notwithstanding that he is not a member, be entitled to attend and speak at any general meeting and at any separate meeting of the holders of any class of shares in the company.
45. The chairman may, with the consent of a meeting at which a quorum is present (and shall if so directed by the meeting), adjourn the meeting from time to time and from place to place, but no business shall be transacted at an adjourned meeting other than business which might properly have been transacted at the meeting had the adjournment not taken place. When a meeting is adjourned for fourteen days or more, at least seven clear days' notice shall be given specifying the time and place of the adjourned meeting and the general nature of the business to be transacted. Otherwise it shall not be necessary to give any such notice.
46. A resolution put to the vote of meeting shall be decided on a show of hands unless before, or on the declaration of the result of, the show of hands a poll is duly demanded -
(a) by the chairman; or
(b) by at least two members having the right to vote at the meeting; or
(c) by a member or members representing not less than one-tenth of the total voting rights of all the members having the right to vote at the meeting; or
(d) by a member or members holding shares conferring a right to vote at the meeting being shares on which an aggregate sum has been paid up equal to not less than one-tenth of the total sum paid up on all the shares conferring that right;
and a demand by a person as proxy for a member shall be the same as a demand by the member.
47. Unless a poll is duly demanded a declaration by the chairman that a resolution has been carried or carried unanimously, or by a particular majority, or lost, or not carried by a particular majority and an entry to that effect in the minutes of the meeting shall be conclusive evidence of the fact without proof of the number or proportion of the votes recorded in favour of or against the resolution.
48. The demand for a poll may, before the poll is taken, be withdrawn but only with the consent of the chairman and a demand so withdrawn shall not be taken to have invalidated the result of a show of hands declared before the demand was made.
49. A poll shall be taken as the chairman directs and he may appoint scrutineers (who need not be members) and fix a time and place for declaring the result of the poll. The result of the poll shall be deemed to be the resolution of the meeting at which the poll was demanded.
50. In the case of an equality of votes, whether on a show of hands or on a poll, the chairman shall be entitled to a casting vote in addition to any other vote he may have.
51. A poll demanded on the election of a chairman or on a question of adjournment shall be taken forthwith. A poll demanded on any other question shall be taken either forthwith or at such time and place as the chairman directs not being more than thirty days after the poll is demanded. if a poll is demanded before the declaration of the result of a show of hands and the demand is duly withdrawn, the meeting shall continue as if the demand had not been made.
52. No notice need be given of a poll not taken forthwith if the time and place at which it is to be taken are announced at the meeting at which it is demanded. in any other case at least seven clear days' notice shall be given specifying the time and place at which the poll is to be taken.
53. A resolution in writing executed by or on behalf of each member who would have been entitled to vote upon it if it had been proposed at a general meeting at which he was present shall be as effectual as if it had been passed at a general meeting duly convened and held and may consist of several instruments in the like form each executed by or on behalf of one or more members.

Votes of members
54. Subject to any rights or restrictions attached to any shares, on a show of hands every member who (being an individual) is present in person or (being a corporation) is present by a duly authorised representative, not being himself entitled to vote, shall have one vote and on a poll every member shall have one vote for every share of which he is the holder.
55. In the case of joint holders the vote of the senior who tenders a vote, whether in person or by proxy, shall be accepted to the exclusion of the votes of the other joint holders; and seniority shall be determined by the order in which the names of the holders stand in the register of members.
56. A member in respect of whom an order has been made by any court having jurisdiction whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere) in matters concerning mental disorder may vote, whether on a show of hands or on a poll, by his receiver, curator bonis or other person authorised in that behalf appointed by that court, and any such receiver, curator bonis or other person may, on a poll, vote by proxy. Evidence to the satisfaction of the directors of the authority of the person claiming to exercise the right to vote shall be deposited at the office, or at such other place as is specified in accordance with the articles for the deposit of instruments of proxy, not less than forty-eight hours before the time appointed for holding the meeting at which the right to vote is to be exercised and in default the right to vote shall not be exercised.
57. No member shall vote at any general meeting or at any separate meeting of the holders of any class of shares in the company, either in person or by proxy, in respect of any share held by him unless all moneys presently payable by him in respect of that share have been paid.
58. No objection shall be raised to the qualification of any voter except at the meeting or adjourned meeting at which the vote objected to is tendered, and every vote not disallowed at the meeting shall be valid. Any objection made in due time shall be referred to the chairman whose decision shall be final and conclusive.
59. On a poll votes may be given personally or by proxy. A member may appoint more than one proxy to attend on the same occasion.
60. The appointment of a proxy shall be executed by or on behalf of the appointor and shall be in the following form (or in a form as near thereto as circumstances allow or in any other form which is usual or which the directors may approve) -

"............................................ PLC/Limited

I/We,................................. of......................................., member/members of the above-named company, hereby appoint................................... of........................................, or failing him,........................................of....................................., as my our proxy to vote in my/our name[s] and on my/our behalf at the annual/extraordinary general meeting of the company to be held on.....................19........., and at any adjournment thereof.
Signed on .................19........"

61. Where it is desired to afford members an opportunity of instructing the proxy how he shall act the appointment of a proxy shall be in the following form (or in a form as near thereto as circumstances allow or in any other form which is usual or which the directors may approve) -

"............................................ PLC/Limited

I/We,................................. of......................................., member/members of the above-named company, hereby appoint................................... of........................................, or failing him,........................................of....................................., as my our proxy to vote in my/our name[s] and on my/our behalf at the annual/extraordinary general meeting of the company to be held on.....................19........., and at any adjournment thereof.
This form is to be used in respect of the resolutions mentioned below as follows:
Resolution No. 1 *for *against
Resolution No. 2 *for *against
*Strike out whichever is not desired.
Unless otherwise instructed, the proxy may vote as he thinks fit or abstain from voting.
Signed this...................day of......................19......."

62. The appointment of a proxy and any authority under which it is executed or a copy of such authority certified notarially or in some other way approved by the directors may -
(a) in the case of an instrument in writing be deposited at the office or at such other place within the United Kingdom as is specified in the notice convening the meeting or in any instrument of proxy sent out by the company in relation to the meeting not less than forty-eight hours before the time for holding the meeting or adjourned meeting at which the person named in the instrument proposes to vote; or

(aa) in the case of an appointment contained in an electronic communication, where an address has been specified for the purpose of receiving electronic communications -
(i) in the notice convening the meeting, or
(ii) in any instrument of proxy sent out by the company in relation to the meeting, or
(iii) in any invitation contained in an electronic communication to appoint a proxy issued by the company in relation to the meeting,
be received at such address not less than 48 hours before the time for holding the meeting or adjourned meeting at which the person named in the appointment proposes to vote;
(b) in the case of a poll taken more than forty-eight hours after it is demanded, be deposited or received as aforesaid after the poll has been demanded and not less than twenty-four hours before the time appointed for the taking of the poll; or
(c) where the poll is not taken forthwith but is taken not more than forty-eight hours after it was demanded, be delivered at the meeting at which the poll was demanded to the chairman or to the secretary or to any director;
and an instrument of proxy which is not deposited, delivered or received in a manner so permitted shall be invalid.
In this regulation and the next, "address", in relation to electronic communications, includes any number or address used for the purposes of such communications.

63. A vote given or poll demanded by proxy or by the duly authorised representative of a corporation shall be valid notwithstanding the previous determination of the authority of the person voting or demanding a poll unless notice of the determination was received by the company at the office or at such other place at which the instrument of proxy was duly deposited or, where the appointment of the proxy was contained in an electronic communication, at the address at which such appointment was duly received before the commencement of the meeting or adjourned meeting at which the vote is given or the poll demanded or (in the case of a poll taken otherwise than on the same day as the meeting or adjourned meeting) the time appointed for taking the poll.

Related topics

clearFloats