Annual General Meeting of a Society or Charitable Trust under COVID-19 Restrictions

Background – the problem The COVID-19 epidemic resulted in restrictions on travel and public gatherings being imposed at a very awkward time, because most societies and charitable trusts were required by their Constitutions and by Statute to have their annual accounts (where their financial years ended on 31 December 2019 or 31 March 2020) approved by their members,  and then to file some form of annual return filed promptly with the Registrar of Incorporated Societies or Charitable Trusts, and, if a registered charity under the Charities Act, with Charities Services. On 15 May 2020 Parliament enacted a statute providing a framework to resolve these problems; the COVID -19 Response (Requirements for Entities- Modifications and Exemptions) Act 2020.   CAUTION: This general article is intended to assist not-for-profit organisations facing problems related to the COVID-19 restrictions by drawing attention to key aspects of the Act.  This Act is 25 pages in length and can be readily accessed here. For those with specific problems, professional advice should be obtained. Section 3(1) of the Act explains its purposes, while section 3(3) and section 9 make it clear that what the Act provides for is only temporary:   3       Overview of Act (1)    This Act provides processes for an entity affected by COVID-19— (a)    to, in some circumstances, use electronic means for doing things if its constitution or rules would otherwise prevent this; and (b)    to modify certain requirements or restrictions in its constitution or rules if it is not reasonably practicable to comply with them. … (3)    Modifications made to constitutions or rules under section 13 are temporary. ...