Number of owners a proxy can represent at collective sales meetings to be restricted from 2021: MinLaw

MinLaw said this option can be exercised as long as certain prescribed safeguards are adopted. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - From January 2021, the number of owners a proxy can represent at general meetings for collective sales will be restricted, said the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) on Tuesday (Sept 29).

These changes seek to encourage owners to participate in person and minimise the risk of proxy abuse.

Proxy holders will be limited to representing owners of no more than 2 per cent of the total number of lots in a strata development, or two lots, whichever is higher.

There is currently no restriction on the number of owners a proxy may represent.

The proxy giver will also be able to explicitly direct his proxy to vote as he intended, added MinLaw in a statement.

"We will strengthen the safeguards in the Land Titles (Strata) Act to encourage owners to participate in person in such general meetings and minimise the risk of proxy abuse."

An owner of a strata-titled property may appoint a proxy to attend general meetings for collective sales and vote on proposals submitted at such meetings. The proxy can also vote on an owner's behalf on the election of members of the collective sale committee.

Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at ERA Realty, said the change will be a positive development for the collective sales process.

There have been instances where parties with strong motivation to vote one way or the other at collective sale meetings persuade their fellow strata-title owners to give them their proxy votes, he said.

These parties could gather significant numbers of proxy votes and influence the sale process in a way that may run counter to the proxy-givers' wishes, he added.

"The proxy-givers may not be aware of all the items to be voted on during the meeting or the impact of the outcome. The proxy-collectors may vote on certain items in the meeting in a way to which the proxy-giver may not agree."

Separately, real-time electronic voting will be an option for some meetings such as general meetings of companies, charities and registered societies amid the Covid-19 pandemic, said MinLaw on Tuesday.

This option kicks in from Thursday and will also apply for insolvency- and bankruptcy-related meetings.

While voting electronically is already prescribed for governing board meetings for some organisations, the ministry said that doing so in real-time is not yet provided for as an alternative arrangement for most meetings.

MinLaw said this option can be exercised as long as certain prescribed safeguards are adopted and the entity still allows attendees to vote by appointing the chairman or convenor as their proxy to vote.

Amendments to the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Alternative Arrangements for Meetings) Orders came into force on Tuesday.

They allow alternative arrangements for virtual meetings such as annual general meetings (AGMs) to continue until June 30 next year.

Certain entities such as charities, management corporations and registered societies can also delay their annual general meetings until Dec 31.

This would give them a grace period to overcome practical difficulties in organising meetings, physical or virtual, the ministry added on Tuesday.

With regard to matters that attendees may wish to raise at meetings, MinLaw said the amendments have made it clearer that organisations can allow this to be done at real-time question-and-answer sessions via electronic means.

Organisations must continue to accept such submissions made via post or e-mail prior to the meeting.

The ministry also clarified that organisations are already allowed to use virtual AGM platforms or other electronic means to accept submissions in advance of the meeting.

It reiterated that organisations can rely on meeting arrangements permitted by their governing instruments, such as physical meetings, as long as they comply with the prevailing safe distancing regulations.

More information on how to conduct alternative arrangements for meetings as well as the authorities to contact for inquiries can be found at this website.

Additional reporting by Ang Qing

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