Companies Act 2006 – Section 544
RESOLUTIONS AT MEETINGS
544. This Chapter replaces sections 368 to 377, 379 and 381 of the 1985 Act and makes
provision about resolutions passed in general meeting. The provisions apply equally to
private and public companies. The new provisions reflect the fact that private companies will
no longer have to hold AGMs. For example, the provisions about circulation of statements in
sections 376 and 377 of the 1985 Act have been separated from the provisions on circulation
of resolutions prior to an AGM – which are in Chapter 4. The Act repeals section 367 of the
1985 Act which gives the Secretary of State a power to call a meeting where there is no
General provisions about resolutions at meetings
Section 301: Resolutions at general meetings
545. This is a general provision about the circumstances in which resolutions at meetings
are validly passed. It extends to all resolutions the principle in section 378(6) of the 1985 Act
relating to special resolutions: that passing a resolution in a meeting is not just a question of
obtaining the right majority but of using the correct procedures. An important difference from
the position under section 378(6) is that, under this section, a resolution must be passed in
accordance with the relevant provisions of the Bill and any additional requirements imposed
by the company’s articles. So, where there are mandatory provisions in the Bill (like those
about proxies’ rights to vote) these cannot be avoided by making alternative provision in the
articles; and where provision is made about meetings in a company’s articles, these must also
be complied with.
Section 302: Directors’ power to call general meetings
546. This section puts into statute part of the default regulation at article 37 of Table A
which allows the directors to call a general meeting. The company’s articles will set out how
the directors act collectively.
Section 303: Members’ power to require directors to call general meeting
547. This section, together with sections 304 and 305 make provision similar to that in
section 368 of the 1985 Act requiring the directors to call a general meeting if requested by
the members. There are three main changes.
548. First, there is a change in the threshold required for a meeting request. For public
companies this remains members with voting rights holding at least 10% of the paid-up
capital. For private companies the threshold is 5% or 10% of the paid-up capital (or, in a
company with no share capital, 5% or 10% of the total voting rights) depending on when
there was last a meeting in advance of which members had a right – equivalent to the right
under this clause (see below) – to circulate resolutions. The threshold is lower if there has
been no such meeting in the last twelve months. Second, as indicated above, subsection (4)(b)
extends the provisions of the 1985 Act by enabling members to include the text of a
resolution to be moved at the requested meeting. Subsection (5) defines what type of
resolution may be properly moved. For example, if the resolution would have no effect, then
it cannot be properly moved. Third, requests in electronic form are permitted.
Section 304: Directors’ duty to call meetings required by members
549. This section sets time limits within which the directors must call and hold a meeting
required by members. Subsection (2) requires that if the members’ request identifies a
resolution to be moved at the meeting, notice of this resolution should be included in the
notice of the meeting.
Section 305: Power of members to call meeting at company’s expense
550. This section enables the members to call a meeting at the company’s expense in the
event that the directors fail to call a meeting on the members’ request. Subsections (6) and (7)
provide for members to be reimbursed appropriately and that the directors are penalised
directly by the reimbursement being taken out of the fees or other remuneration due to them.
Section 306: Power of court to order meeting
551. This section reproduces the effect of section 371 of the 1985 Act and gives the court
power to order a meeting of the company and to direct the manner in which that meeting is
called, held and conducted.
Notice of meetings
Section 307: Notice required of general meeting
552. This section replaces part of section 369 of the 1985 Act. It retains the current
minimum notice period requirement of 21 days for public company AGMs, with 14 days’
notice required for all other general meetings (whether public or private company general
meetings). A general meeting may be called on shorter notice if the requisite majority of
members agree. The key substantive change from the position under existing legislation is
that the requisite majority required to agree a short notice period has been reduced for private
companies from 95% to 90% of the voting rights, although the articles may specify up to
95% if the company wishes. For public companies, the majority required to agree a short
notice period remains at 95% of the voting rights.
Section 308: Manner in which notice to be given
553. This section should be read in conjunction with the general requirements for
companies in sending and supplying information as set out in Part 37 and Schedule 5.
Section 309: Publication of notice of meeting on website
554. This section contains some specific provisions on communications by means of a
website and needs to be read with the general provisions on communications referred to
above. The overall effect is similar to that of the website provisions in the current section 369
of the 1985 Act.
Section 310: Persons entitled to receive notice of meetings
555. This section puts into statute part of article 38 of Table A. The new provision ensures
that notice of meetings must be sent to all members, directors and any person entitled to a
share as a consequence of the death or bankruptcy (or the equivalent in Scots insolvency law)
of a member. The provision is subject to any enactment and to any provision in the articles.
This means that a company may, for example, make provision in its articles to stop sending
notice of meeting to members for whom the company no longer has a valid address.
Section 311: Contents of notices of meetings
556. This section puts into statute another part of article 38 of Table A. The new provision
ensures that the notice of meeting must include the time, date and place of the meeting and,
subject to the articles, the general nature of the business to be conducted at the meeting.
Section 312: Resolution requiring special notice
557. This section replaces section 379 of the 1985 Act setting out the requirements for
special notice resolutions. It makes provision only in relation to resolutions passed at
meetings. This is because the resolutions for which special notice is required are either
resolutions that are not capable of being passed as written resolutions (in the case of sections
168 and 510) or in relation to which written resolutions have their own special procedure (see
sections 514 and 515).
558. There is no change from the existing law whereby at least 28 days’ notice must be
given to the company of the intention to move a resolution requiring special notice. Where it
is not practicable for the company to give members notice of such a resolution at the same
time as it gives notice of the meeting at which the resolution is to be moved, the company
must in future give at least 14 days’ notice either by newspaper advertisement or by any other
manner allowed by the articles.
Section 313: Accidental failure to give notice of resolution or meeting
559. This section expands on article 39 of Table A. It contains the rule that an accidental
failure to give notice of a resolution or a general meeting is generally disregarded. Under
subsection (2), this rule can be altered by the articles in some but not all cases.
Section 314: Members’ power to require circulation of statements
560. This section, together with section 315, replaces sections 376 and 377 of the 1985 Act
and provides a right for members to require the company to circulate a statement of up to
1,000 words. The key policy change is that where the statement relates to a resolution or
other matter to be dealt with at a public company’s AGM and is received before the
company’s financial year-end, the shareholders are not required to cover the costs of
circulating the statement. There are two other notable changes. The first is that the shares
relied on to trigger the circulation of a statement must in each case carry rights to vote on the
relevant resolution rather than just at the meeting. The second is that requests in electronic
form are permitted.
Section 315: Company’s duty to circulate members’ statement
561. This section replaces the remainder of sections 376 and 377 of the 1985 Act and
specifies what the company is to do when it is required to circulate a members’ statement.
The statement must be circulated in the same manner as notice of the meeting and at the same
time, or as soon as reasonably practicable, after the company gives notice of the meeting.
Where the company fails to comply with the provisions of this section an offence is
committed by every officer of the company who is in default.