Come November 25, the Supreme Court will hear the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) seek permission for companies to hold general meetings, and for itself, an extraordinary general meeting, in a manner to involve live stream or electronic broadcast, as specified by the court.
The JSE is representative claimant for seven publicly listed companies and on its own behalf with its managing director, Marlene Street Forrest, acting as their representative to seek an order for a variation of the Companies Act of Jamaica relating to annual general meetings.
The companies being represented are Wisynco Group Limited, NCB Financial Group, KLE Group Limited, Everything Fresh Limited, Ciboney Group Limited, Caribbean Assurance Brokers Limited and Jamaica Broilers Group Limited.
The new affidavit outlines restrictions applied under the Disaster Risk Management Act under which Jamaica has been declared a disaster area due to the effects of the coronavirus.
AGMs are allowed to have only 15 persons and persons aged over age 65 are not permitted to gather.
A similar application was made in June for 17 other listed companies.
The JSE said shareholders numbering in the range of 1,300 to 20,000 would not be able to attend an AGM as prescribed by the Companies Act of Jamaica.
The application made by Street Forrest outlines that the requirements of physical distancing make it impossible for any company to find a venue large enough to accommodate shareholders, numbering in the hundreds, six feet apart.
The seven new companies represented are all required to hold AGMs between October 2020 and April 2021. The Companies Act by which they are governed calls for the holding of AGMs in a physical location for shareholder attendance and voting.
The new affidavit makes mention of the uncertainty of when COVID-19 will stop and also the fact that the virus is now in its community spread phase.
The claim seeks an order for a meeting held electronically or by other virtual means as specified by the court, allowing shareholders to attend, ask questions and vote.
The JSE itself outlines that its next AGM will not be due until mid-year 2021, whereas it needs to have an extraordinary general meeting for approval of an employee stock option plan.