Electronic Participation in General Meetings and the Right to Ask Questions - Implementing the Shareholders' Right Directive (2007/36/EG) (Das Auskunftsrecht des Aktionärs bei elektronischer Teilnahme an der Hauptversammlung (§§ 118, 131 AktG))
Neue Zeitschrift für Gesellschaftsrecht (NZG), p. 130, 2010
Posted: 21 Apr 2010
Date Written: February 10, 2010
Art. 8 (1) of the Shareholders’ Rights Directive requires the member states of the European Union to “permit companies to offer to their shareholders any form of participation in the general meeting by electronic means”. This requirement was transposed into German law by the Act Implementing the Shareholders’ Rights Directive (ARUG) which inserted a new section 118(1) sentence 2 into the German Stock Corporation Act (Aktiengesetz, AktG). According to this new provision, a public limited company’s articles of association can provide or empower the managing board to provide that shareholders may participate in the general meeting, without being present at its location and without being represented, by using electronic means of communication. The articles of association may likewise provide or empower the managing board to provide that online participants may exercise some or all of the rights shareholders enjoy in a general meeting, either in full or partially, by using electronic means of communication.
This paper analyzes the regulatory framework governing the internet-based exercise of shareholders’ rights, the primary focus being on the scope of the company’s right to grant shareholders online participation rights. In particular it addresses the question as to what extent the shareholders’ right to ask questions in the general meeting (see art. 9 Shareholders’ Rights Directive, Section 131 AktG) can be partially granted to electronic participants.
Keywords: general meeting, electronic participation, Shareholders’ Rights Directive, right to ask questions, limited shareholder rights, abuse of discretionary powers, action to contest a resolution, Fragerecht, § 118 AktG, § 131 AktG, elektronische Teilnahme, Hauptversammlung, Anfechtungsklage
JEL Classification: G30, G38, K20, K22, K23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation