We have previously written about the opportunities and constraints for credit unions considering virtual AGMs to enable greater participation in the democratic process: our papers covered what is allowed and then how to implement. Until now, there have been particular legal restrictions on Irish credit unions in this area, so we are really pleased that new legislation was passed in the Oireachtas on 10th December which will allow for virtual AGMs.

The law will be signed, and enacted in the next week or so and can be seen in full here: https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/bill/2020/61/eng/ver_a/b61a20s.pdf. Here are some key points worth noting:

  • There is a period up to 30 April 2021 in which the board can determine how to convene an AGM, notwithstanding what is in their rules, and in which they can hold the 2020 AGM. The period can be extended if needed.
  • It allows for virtual or partly virtual general meetings on a permanent basis and greater flexibility for voting. This is to try and encourage more participation in the future.
  • It removes the legal restriction on proxy voting, though it doesn’t give it as a right to members. Credit unions can continue to prohibit proxy voting in their own rules, similar to the UK.

Credit unions will still need to consider the many practical issues arising, and we hope that CFCFE’s papers are useful in this regard. The legislation aims to be less prescriptive to enable credit unions to decide how best to manage these issues themselves.

We welcome feedback on all our research, so do get in touch with any comments on our guidance in this area (contact nick.money@swobodacentre.org).