The interim period of the Companies Act 2020 has been extended to the end of April next year following Government approval this week.
The Act makes temporary amendments to the Companies Act 2014 and the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1893 to address issues arising as a result of Covid-19.
It ensures that 240,000 companies and 950 industrial and provident societies in Ireland can hold their annual general meetings (AGMs) and general meetings online.
The act also provides for additional breathing space for struggling businesses by increasing the period of examinership to 150 days and increasing the threshold at which a company is deemed unable to pay its debts to €50,000.
Minister for Trade Promotion, Company Regulation and Digital Robert Troy said the recent resurgence in case numbers highlights the unpredictability of Covid, adding that we must be ready to adapt to the evolving nature of the crisis.
“In that context, I believe it is prudent that the measures provided for by the Act should be retained as a contingency measure and as a way of providing certainty and stability for business over the winter/spring months,” Mr Troy said.
He also said the Government’s most recent advice concerning attendance at work is that such attendance should only occur when it is necessary to conduct essential work that can not be undertaken in a remote setting.
“In order to be compatible with this advice I have further extended the provision for undertaking meetings in a virtual format to allow companies to fulfil their statutory obligations without compromising the health of participants,” he said.
“While these temporary extensions will give businesses much needed certainty in the months ahead, work is progressing to put virtual AGMs and general meetings on a permanent statutory footing and I look forward to introducing this next year,” he added.
The Minister also extended the amendments in respect of insolvency provisions until April 30.
“While I greatly welcome the return to growth and the very positive figures we are seeing for many sectors across the economy it is nevertheless difficult to quantify and ascertain the condition of many businesses, small businesses in particular, following the extensive shuttering of large parts of the economy,” the Minister said.
“Extending these temporary provisions will give businesses much needed breathing space as we navigate the pandemic landscape,” he added.