In Delaware, Governor John C. Carney issued a Declaration of State of Emergency in connection with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This month, the Declaration was modified (the Tenth Modification) to address the numerous shareholder meetings to be noticed for Delaware companies. The Tenth Modification, acknowledging that physical gatherings are explicitly discouraged, advise that shareholder meetings be held remotely for the “safety, health and wellbeing of participants”.
Corporations are permitted to adjourn their physical meetings or move to a remote format, provided that certain steps are taken if the date and/or “location” (yes, virtual) are being changed. Pursuant to § 232 of Title 8 of the Delaware Code, notice of stockholder meetings is usually given through mail, courier service, or email – but the Securities and Exchange Commission is currently allowing companies to provide certain notices via required public filings and press releases. Consequently, to effectuate the change of an annual meeting to a remote format, Delaware corporations should file this notice with the SEC and issue a press release on their websites immediately afterwards.
Although Delaware law already does generally provide that corporations are allowed to hold stockholder meetings remotely, these provisions (e.g. the board of directors has the discretion to decide upon a remote meeting) must be in the corporation’s organizational documents. Consequently, the Tenth Amendment contains crucial provisions for those corporations whose organizational documents may not have been as explicit on these issues. The other provisions of 8 Del. C. § 211, such as the “reasonable measures” to verify the presence and participation of stockholders/proxyholders, as well as record-keeping, have not been changed by the Tenth Amendment.
Besides these very-relevant provisions for corporations and stockholders, the Tenth Amendment also placed further restrictions on certain non-essential businesses, banned short-term rentals (including the rent of hotel and motel rooms) until May 15, among others.
Jacklyn Fetbroyt is a founding member of Kang Haggerty & Fetbroyt LLC and is currently a committeeperson of the Voorhees Township Committee. Among other things, Jackie focuses on counseling companies and business owners through all stages of their ventures from conception to dissolution, assisting her business clients in all of their needs for maintenance and growth. On Township Committee, Jackie strives to be a resource to and ears of the residents in her hometown.
In this ever-changing landscape of information and legislation, please be aware that the information contained in this blog post may no longer be relevant or applicable. The content of this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion.