Businesses will now be permitted to hold their Annual General Meetings virtually following a series of changes to the 2014 Companies Act passed by the Dáil today.

Companies had been expressing concern about the obligation to hold meetings in person given the restrictions on large gatherings to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

"AGMs are an important forum for members to approve the accounts, appoint auditors and hold the directors accountable for the affairs of the companies and co-operatives," Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Robert Troy said. 

"It is a welcome development that these activities can now be facilitated electronically and held in compliance with public health guidance on social distancing and travel restrictions."

The measures will remain in place for an interim period up until the end of December, with potential for extension of this period.

The amendments also allow companies to postpone their AGMs until December 31st and hold creditors and general meetings virtually

Among the other amendments are a provision to extend the period for examinership of a distressed company to 150 days and a measure to increase the threshold at which a company is deemed unable to pay its debts to €50,000. 

"There are shops, cafés and hairdressers across Ireland struggling right now. This change will mean that these businesses will not be wound up for relatively small debts of €10,000," Minister Troy said.