CSR NFP to Appeal Shareholder Court Ruling
12 August 2015 at 11:01 am
Corporate democracy Not for Profit, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), says it will appeal a court decision disallowing a shareholder resolution to be put to the Commonwealth Bank’s Annual General Meeting.
ACCR launched a legal challenge earlier this year about the rights of shareholders to put resolutions to the AGMs of Australian companies and in particular the Commonwealth Bank over a shareholder resolution on climate risk.
On 31 July the presiding judge ruled that companies are only required to put up resolutions that change the company constitution at company AGMs.
It found that shareholders can ask to change a company’s constitution but they cannot direct a board to act in a certain way.
The ACCR court challenge was being supported by lawyers from Environmental Justice Australia.
“This is a disappointing decision that has left Australia far behind other developed countries such as the US, the UK, New Zealand and Canada, where shareholder resolutions commenting on important company issues are an accepted, healthy part of corporate culture and where they have proven capable of bringing about real change,” Director of Litigation at Environmental Justice Australia, Felicity Milner told the ABC.
“Our client is an organisation that is concerned about corporate responsibility.
“It recognises that corporations have more and more power in our society than they have previously, and wants to make sure that corporations are run in a way that they are transparent and accountable and basically are aware of and comply with their obligations to society.”
“(We) will continue to fight for corporate democracy and accountability. We are planning to appeal,” ACCR said after the ruling.
The CBA said in a statement: “We welcome the participation of shareholders and other groups in CBA’s Annual General Meetings, and balance it with the need to run such meetings effectively. We are pleased with the court’s judgement as it confirms that we acted in accordance with the law, as we put forward the only properly constituted resolution proposed by ACCR to the 2014 Annual General Meeting.”