Amended rules target board transaction powers

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The central government notified the Companies (Meetings of Board and its Powers) Second Amendment Rules, 2019 on 18 November 2019. The amendment rules amend sub-clause 3 of rule 15 of the Companies (Meetings of Board and its Powers) Rules, 2014. The amendment rules alter the various transaction thresholds within which the board may authorize a related party transaction without referring the matter to the shareholders pursuant to section 188(1) (Related party transactions) of the Companies Act, 2013.

Rule 15 provides for conditions applicable to the board taking up, discussing and approving a related party contract or arrangement. The first proviso to section 188(1) of the act provides that no contract or arrangement which exceeds certain monetary thresholds, in relation to the company’s paid-up share capital or otherwise, may be entered into without the prior approval of the shareholders by a resolution. The thresholds in relation to this proviso to section 188(1) of the act are prescribed by the rules and have been amended through the amendment rules as follows:

  • For a contract or arrangement in relation to a sale, purchase or supply of any goods, previously the threshold, was the lower of: (1) 10% or more of the turnover of the company; or (2)₹1 billion. The amendment rules have relaxed the threshold and fixed it at 10% or more of turnover of the company.
  • Similarly, for a contract or arrangement for selling or otherwise disposing of, or buying property of any kind, previously the threshold for requiring a shareholder resolution was the lower of: (2) 10% or more of the turnover of the company; or (2)₹1 billion. The amendment rules have relaxed the threshold and fixed it at 10% or more of turnover of the company.
  • The amendment rules has similarly amended the threshold for a contract or arrangement in relation to leasing of property any kind, and in relation to availing or rendering of any services (directly, or through the appointment of an agent). The amendment rules now fix the threshold at 10% or more of turnover of the company.

Accordingly, the ministry has relaxed the thresholds and made it simpler for companies to ensure ease of business, and the ease of entering into related party transactions.

The business law digest is compiled by Nishith Desai Associates, a research-based international law firm with offices in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Singapore, Silicon Valley, Munich and New York. The firm specializes in strategic legal, regulatory and tax advice coupled with industry expertise in an integrated manner.