Shareholders must exercise what powers they hold through the general meeting. Meetings are also important to directors to enable them function as a board, rather than as simply a collection of individuals. Many companies have begun to move at least some of their meetings into cyberspace-to facilitate having participants who are geographically spread, or simply to take advantage of the multi-media possibilities of the computer desktop: Stored and linked documents, total transcription, multi-levelled synchronous discussions. Meetings where participants are present via technological means are likely to become more prevalent as the cyber-savvy generation increasingly takes over senior management roles.
As yet there is very little legal precedent examining the legal limits of technology in replacing the ‘face to face’ meeting in those situations where the law requires a ‘meeting’ to be held, and even less which might mandate electronic means of communication as the preferred medium for disseminating information to meeting participants, or for facilitating measured discussion, and informed voting.
Describe the key purpose of the shareholder general meeting and the meeting of the board of directors. In what ways might electronic aids and/or cyber meeting techniques enable those purposes to be better achieved? What aspects of such technologically aided meetings might be open to legal challenge—and on what basis would such challenges rest? Where relevant, refer to such case law as currently exists in this sphere. Can you think of situations in which electronic communication might be required in future legislation in order to better meet the purposes of those meetings of shareholders or directors the law requires?