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Thousands of Australia’s registered charities will enjoy greater flexibility when it comes to staging meetings – as well as signing and executing documents – through recent amendments to the Corporations Act.

The changes are included in the Corporations Amendment (Meetings and Documents) Act, and cover charities that are registered under the Corporations Act.

The amendments make permanent temporary laws first introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and allow companies to execute and send documents electronically, as well as hold meetings virtually.

These changes mean:

  • The ability for people to execute documents (including deeds) by signing either a physical of electronic form of the document.
  • A person will not be required to sign the same form or page of a document as another person, or use the same method of signing as another person.
  • The ability for agents (authorised representatives) to execute documents on behalf of companies without appointment by deed and without using a common seal.
  • Documents can be sent in a physical format or electronically, providing the flexibility for people to receive documents in their preferred format.
  • Companies can hold meetings physically or as a ‘hybrid’ (using one or more physical venues and virtual meeting technology). Wholly virtual meetings are also permitted if expressly provided for in the company’s constitution.

Changes relating to signing and executing documents came into effect on 23 February 2022. Changes relating to meetings will come into effect on 1 April 2022.

And while these amendments to the Corporations Act provide a minimum standard, charities’ governing documents may require more.

Charities must continue to comply with their governing documents, and in light of the legislative amendments charities that are corporations could consider reviewing their governing documents and seeking legal advice.