Edit - Since publication of this post, the Companies and Industrial and Provident Societies (Covid-19) (Amendment) Bill 2020 was enacted as the Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Covid-19) Act 2020 on the 30th of July. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation ("DBEI") has said that - "These important amendments will provide additional breathing space to struggling businesses and complement the extensive supports provided in the July stimulus package." Read the full update from the DBEI here - https://dbei.gov.ie/en/News-And-Events/Department-News/2020/July/30072020a.html

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation published a General Scheme of the Companies and Industrial Provident Societies(Covid-19) (Amendment) Bill 2020 on the 16th of July. 

This Bill addresses the practical issue of sealing by companies during Covid-19 to get around the issue of the company seal in one location and the directors, secretary and registered persons in other locations. There are also provisions dealing with AGMs, allowing for extensions and explicitly enabling companies to hold general meetings by electronic means. It also enables the Minister to make regulations to give further effect to these provisions.  

In order to address certain challenges presented by Covid19 in the areas of corporate restructuring and insolvency, the Bill proposes the following temporary (save for 4 and 5 below) amendments to the Companies Act 2014: 

  1. increase the single and aggregated amounts for a statutory demand to €50,000;
  2. the holding of virtual creditors meetings including for CVLs, schemes and examinerships;
  3. extension of the period of protection for examinership to 150 days in certain circumstances;
  4. the codification of a director's duty to have regard to the interests of creditors when a company is unable or likely to be unable to pay its debts as they fall due; and
  5. a modification to the exemption to the general stay on legal action on a winding up to allow employees proceed with WRD claims.

The most significant proposed change is the extension of the Examinership period to 150 days and this has the potential to aid larger and cross border restructurings during the pandemic.