In a welcome development, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (the DETE) has announced the extension of the temporary provisions of the Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Covid-19) Act 2020 (the Act) until 31 December 2022. Minister of State, Robert Troy, has stressed that the "underlying motivation for the further extension of these important measures is very much focused on ensuring that businesses are provided with adequate time to recover from the difficult trading circumstances of the pandemic".
The Act was introduced in 2020 to address issues arising as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and makes temporary amendments to the Companies Act 2014 and the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1893. The "interim period", which has been extended on a number of occasions, was set to expire on 30 April 2022 and a decision on its extension was eagerly awaited. The extension provides certainty to companies planning general meetings in the coming months. It also ensures that the additional reliefs granted to companies in financial difficulties (such as the lengthening of the period of examinership) will continue and give such companies much-needed "breathing space".
The extension means that the following may continue until 31 December 2022:
where documents are being executed under company seal, the seal and signatures may be added to separate documents (in counterpart)
general meetings may be conducted wholly or partly by electronic means
the period of protection from creditors remains extendable up to 150 days
winding up debt thresholds for individual and aggregate debts remains at €50,000
creditors' meetings and meetings of industrial and provident societies may be conducted wholly or partly by electronic means
Minister Troy has indicated that this is likely to be the final extension of the Act and work is continuing to put virtual AGMs and general meetings on a permanent statutory footing.