Announcing the changes, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that they provide 'certainty to companies and boards about how they can meet their legal obligations over the next six months'.
The changes have been put in place because of the COVID-19 restrictions and are now in force. The changes will cease to operate on 6 November 2020.
Section 5 of the instrument allows entities that are required or permitted to hold meetings (including AGMs) to do so remotely as online only meetings.
Where a notice has already been issued: If notice of the meeting has already been issued, a supplementary notice must be issued at least seven days before the meeting with information about how to participate electronically.
Section 6 modifies section 127 of the Corporations Act to enable the entire process of executing a document to be carried out electronically.
The explanatory memorandum states that:
'In practice, there are a wide variety of means by which officers of a company might sign a document electronically. These include:
'The modification means that signatories do not need to sign the same physical document. Instead, a document could be signed and scanned by the first signatory and then printed and signed by the second signatory, or separate electronic signatures could be applied to fully electronic versions of the document. If these elements are satisfied, then an electronic signature applied under section 127 will be effective to execute a document.'
Announcing the change, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that 'previously, in a number of cases, signatories were required to sign the same physical document. This will ensure that documents are able to be properly executed at a time when ordinary business operations have been disrupted'.
[Sources: Treasurer Josh Frydenberg media release 05/04/2020; Corporations (Coronavirus Economic Response) Determination (No. 1) 2020]