Increased concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus are prompting companies to look at alternatives to their in-person annual meeting of shareholders, including holding the meeting partly or even wholly online with streamed audio and/or video content. This could potentially accelerate a recent trend in Canada towards considering alternatives to the traditional in-person shareholder meeting, including holding “virtual” shareholder meetings where the meeting is held wholly by electronic means or “hybrid” meetings where there is a physical location for the meeting but shareholders and proxyholders have an opportunity to choose whether to participate in person or electronically.
Holding virtual shareholder meetings is possible in several Canadian jurisdictions. In those jurisdictions where it is not possible to hold a fully virtual meeting, companies can hold a hybrid meeting. It is important to understand whether there are legal impediments to electronic participation at meetings and best practices in conducting such meetings.