Hewitt is expected to lay a commencement order, the first to embrace electronic communications, in Parliament which will legally recognise the electronic sending of voting and sending annual reports over the net.
The changes will be made to the Companies Act 1985 and are expected to be finalised in November. Hewitt said: ‘The order will help to encourage modern, speedy and often cheaper communication, and is an important step in modernising company law’.
At present the law states companies must use a pen and paper based signature when communicating with members, shareholders and Companies House. E-signatures are still not legally recognised.
The changes follow the legal recognition of electronic signatures as of July. Under next week’s plans shareholders will be able to agree to access annual reports and accounts on a website rather than being sent copies through the post. They will also be able to appoint proxies by e-mail, and produce voting instructions.
The legislation comes as part of government attempts to bring services online by 2005.
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