Federal Court of Australia
Dragontail Systems Limited, in the matter of Dragontail Systems Limited  FCA 834
DATE OF ORDER:
16 July 2021
THE COURT ORDERS THAT:
1. Pursuant to s 17(4) of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976, to the extent that, and for so long as, the Public Health (COVID-19 Gathering Restrictions) Order (No 2) 2021 and the Public Health (COVID-19 Temporary Movement and Gathering Restrictions) Order 2021 under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) operate to limit or exclude members of the public from being able to attend court at the Law Courts Building Queens Square Sydney during the hearing of this proceeding, the sitting of the Court continues notwithstanding the inability of members of the public to be present who have not applied to the Registry to observe the hearing by video link or audio link while testimony and submissions are being given pursuant to ss 47A, 47B, 47D and or 47E of the Federal Court of Australia Act.
2. Unless the Court otherwise orders, no person, being a member of the public, who is observing the hearing of the proceeding by accessing any audio or video link, including by link to the platform Microsoft Teams may:
(a) make any audio or video recording or photograph of the hearing or any part of it; and
(b) participate in, or interrupt, the hearing,
provided that nothing in this order shall prevent any person, based on what he or she has seen or heard during the hearing:
(c) making his or her own notes or record of the proceeding; or
(d) publishing a fair report of the proceeding.
THE COURT NOTES THAT:
3. A contravention of order 2 may constitute a contempt of court and be punishable by imprisonment, fine and or sequestration of property.
THE COURT ORDERS THAT:
Scheme of arrangement
4. Pursuant to ss 411(1) and 1319 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Act):
(a) the Plaintiff convene a meeting (Scheme Meeting) of the holders of its fully paid ordinary shares (Shareholders) for the purpose of considering, and if thought fit, agreeing (with or without modification) to the proposed scheme of arrangement to be made between the Plaintiff and its Shareholders (Scheme) in the form sent electronically to the court by the plaintiffs at 5.54 pm on 16 July 2021 which has been tendered and marked Exhibit 1 in these proceedings (Scheme Booklet);
(b) the Scheme Meeting be held on 23 August 2021 virtually and in person at Level 9, 40 St Georges Terrace, Perth, Western Australia 6000 commencing at 12 noon (Perth time);
(c) the time for determining eligibility to vote at the Scheme Meeting be fixed at 5:00pm (Perth time) on 21 August 2021;
(d) the chairperson of the Scheme Meeting be Henry Shiner, or failing him, Ron Shaul Zuckerman;
(e) the chairperson appointed to the Scheme Meeting has the power to adjourn or postpone the Scheme Meeting in his absolute discretion for such time and to such date as the chairperson considers appropriate;
(f) the chairperson appointed to the Scheme Meeting be permitted to attend and chair the meeting by video-conferencing technologies;
(g) at the Scheme Meeting, the resolution to approve the scheme be decided by way of a poll;
(h) the Scheme Booklet be approved for distribution to Shareholders, together with:
(i) a proxy form for the Scheme Meeting (substantially in the form of the pro forma copy which is Annexure IL-7 to the Affidavit of Ido Levanon affirmed 14 July 2021 in these proceedings) (Proxy Form);
(ii) (for a Shareholder whose registered address is in Australia) a bank account update form (substantially in the form of the pro forma copy which is Annexure IL-8 to the Affidavit of Ido Levanon affirmed 14 July 2021 in these proceedings) (Australian Bank Account Form);
(iii) (for a Shareholder whose registered address is outside Australia) a bank account update form (substantially in the form of the pro forma copy which is Annexure IL-9 to the Affidavit of Ido Levanon affirmed 14 July 2021 in these proceedings) (Overseas Bank Account Form); and
(iv) an Israeli withholding tax declaration (substantially in the form of the pro forma copy which is Annexure IL-10 to the Affidavit of Ido Levanon affirmed 14 July 2021 in these proceedings) (IWHT Form).
5. Pursuant to s 1319 of the Act, the Plaintiff is to cause to be issued on or before 22 July 2021:
(a) to each Shareholder who, in accordance with the Act, has nominated an electronic address for the purposes of receiving notices of meeting from the Plaintiff, at such address, an email substantially in the form of the document which is Annexure HHJ-10 to the Affidavit of Helen Hui Jin affirmed 16 July 2021 in these proceedings, including:
(i) an electronic hyperlink to download the Scheme Booklet;
(ii) an electronic hyperlink to the webpage where that Shareholder can electronically lodge proxies for the Scheme Meeting; and
(iii) attaching a copy of the IWHT Form and either (for a Shareholder whose registered address is in Australia) the Australian Bank Account Form or (for a Shareholder whose registered address is outside Australia) the Overseas Bank Account Form;
(b) to each Shareholder (other than those referred to in 2(a) above) by pre-paid post, or in the case of a Shareholder whose registered address is outside Australia, by pre-paid air mail, addressed to that Shareholder's address set out in the register of members of the Plaintiff:
(i) a letter with the URL address to the Scheme Booklet substantially in the form of the document which is Annexure HHJ-11 to the Affidavit of Helen Hui Jin affirmed 16 July 2021 in these proceedings;
(ii) a Proxy Form, an IWHT Form and either (for a Shareholder whose registered address is in Australia) the Australian Bank Account Form or (for a Shareholder whose registered address is outside Australia) the Overseas Bank Account Form; and
(iii) a reply paid envelope addressed to the Plaintiff.
6. Pursuant to s 1319 of the Act, the Plaintiff shall by no later than 16 August 2021, and may at any other time, cause to follow up those Shareholders who have not returned their IWHT Form or otherwise complied with the Israeli Withholding Tax Ruling in Annexure B of the Scheme Booklet, by either:
(a) if such Shareholder has, in accordance with the Act, nominated an electronic address for the purposes of receiving notices of meeting from the Plaintiff, sending to such address, an email substantially in the form of the document which is Annexure HHJ-12 to the Affidavit of Helen Hui Jin affirmed 16 July 2021 in these proceedings; and/or
(b) issuing a letter to such Shareholder by pre-paid post, or in the case of a Shareholder whose registered address is outside Australia, by pre-paid air mail, a letter substantially in the form of the document which is Annexure HHJ-13 to the Affidavit of Helen Hui Jin affirmed 16 July 2021 in these proceedings.
7. Pursuant to s 1319 of the Act, the Plaintiff may cause to follow up those Shareholders who have not returned their IWHT Form or otherwise complied with the Israeli Withholding Tax Ruling in Annexure B of the Scheme Booklet, by calling such Shareholder, provided the caller follows a script substantially in the form of the document which is Annexure HHJ-14 to the Affidavit of Helen Hui Jin affirmed 16 July 2021 in these proceedings.
8. Rule 2.15 of the Federal Court (Corporations) Rules 2000 (Cth) shall not apply to the Scheme Meeting.
9. Notice of the hearing of the application pursuant to subsection 411(4)(b) of the Corporations Act for orders approving the Scheme be published once in "The Australian" newspaper, by advertisement substantially in the form of Annexure "A" to these orders, such advertisement to be published on or before 24 August 2021, and the Plaintiff otherwise be exempted for compliance with the requirement to publish a notice of the hearing of the application pursuant to rule 3.4 of the Federal Court (Corporations) Rules 2000 (Cth).
10. The proceeding be stood over to 10:15am on Monday, 30 August 2021 for the hearing of any application to approve the Scheme.
11. There be liberty to apply.
Note: Entry of orders is dealt with in Rule 39.32 of the Federal Court Rules 2011.
Dragontail Systems Limited
ACN 614 800 136
Notice of hearing to approve scheme of arrangement
TO all the creditors and members of Dragontail Systems Limited (ACN 614 800 136) (Dragontail).
TAKE NOTICE that at 10:15am (Sydney time) on 30 August 2021, the Federal Court of Australia at Law Courts Building, 184 Phillip Street, Queens Square, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia will hear an application by Dragontail seeking the approval of a compromise or arrangement between Dragontail and its ordinary shareholders (Shareholders) as proposed by a resolution passed at a meeting of Shareholders held on 23 August 2021.
If you wish to oppose the approval of the compromise or arrangement, you must file and serve on Dragontail a notice of appearance, in the prescribed form, together with any affidavit on which you wish to rely at the hearing. The notice of appearance and affidavit must be served on Dragontail at its address for service at least 1 day before the date fixed for the hearing of the application.
The address for service of Dragontail is: c/- Thomson Geer, Level 14, 60 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia (Attention: Jason Marcus).
Jason Marcus, Thomson Geer
Solicitor for Dragontail Systems Limited
1 By an originating process filed on 28 June 2021, the plaintiff, Dragontail Systems Limited (DTS), applies pursuant to ss 411(1) and 1319 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Act) for orders to convene a meeting (Scheme Meeting) of its members to consider and vote upon the proposed scheme of arrangement (Scheme) between DTS and its ordinary shareholders (Scheme Participants).
2 The Scheme is a conventional cash acquisition scheme under which DTS ordinary shareholders will receive AUD0.235 for every ordinary share that they hold as at the record date for the Scheme.
3 The Scheme, if implemented, will result in the acquisition of all the ordinary shares in DTS (Scheme Shares) by Yum Connect Australia Pty Ltd (Bidco) and the subsequent delisting of DTS from the Australian Securities Exchange. There are also convertible preference shares in DTS which will either be converted into ordinary shares and be captured by the Scheme or acquired contractually.
4 The Scheme includes a break fee, exclusivity provisions and most significantly, provisions addressing potential liability of Scheme Participants for Israeli withholding tax.
Evidence relied upon by DTS
5 The application is supported by an affidavit of Ido Levanon affirmed on 14 July 2021. Mr Levanon is the managing director of DTS. In his affidavit, Mr Levanon:
(a) explains that DTS is a provider of software and analytical solutions for the optimisation of the food preparation and delivery industry;
(b) annexes copies of the constitution of DTS, its latest annual report and a company search of DTS and also describes its capital structure;
(c) explains the negotiation of the Scheme Implementation Deed with Bidco (Scheme Implementation Deed) and the content of the booklet that has been prepared for the Scheme (Scheme Booklet);
(d) explains the content and rationale for the inclusion in the Scheme of the exclusivity provisions and the break fee of approximately 1% of the maximum consideration payable for the acquisition of the Scheme Shares;
(e) identifies the steps that DTS proposes to take to bring the Israeli withholding tax issue to the attention of shareholders;
(f) explains the due diligence and verification process undertaken by the DTS board for the Scheme;
(g) confirms that the DTS board unanimously recommends to shareholders that they vote in favour of the Scheme in the absence of a superior proposal; and
(h) describes the process for the dispatch of the Scheme Booklet to shareholders.
6 DTS also relies on the following affidavits:
(a) six affidavits of Helen Hui Jin, a solicitor employed by the law firm representing DTS, affirmed on 25 June, 9 July, 15 July (two affidavits) and 16 July (two affidavits) 2021, attaching company searches and communications with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), including a copy of ASIC’s usual first court hearing letter;
(b) an affidavit of Sally Mills Glover, a director of Bidco, affirmed on 15 July 2021 providing information about Bidco and the verification process undertaken by Bidco;
(c) an affidavit of Henry Shiner, a non-executive director of DTS, affirmed on 13 July 2021 confirming that he had agreed to chair the Scheme Meeting;
(d) an affidavit of Ron Shaul Zuckerman, a non-executive director of DTS, affirmed on 13 July 2021 confirming that he had agreed to act as an alternate chairperson for the Scheme Meeting;
(e) an affidavit of David John McCourt, a director of BDO Corporate Finance (East Coast) Pty Ltd, affirmed on 15 July 2021 annexing his independent expert’s report in which he concludes that the proposed Scheme is fair and reasonable and, as a result, is in the best interests of the shareholders of DTS at the time of writing his report;
(f) an affidavit of Eng Hua Ng, a director of BDO Corporate Tax (WA) Pty Ltd, affirmed on 12 July 2021 annexing his letter that was included in the Scheme Booklet addressing the Australian taxation implications for the proposed Scheme;
(g) an affidavit of Oz Liberman, a tax partner of Kost, Forer, Gabbay & Kasierer, annexing his letter that was included in the Scheme Booklet addressing the Israeli withholding tax issues; and
(h) an affidavit of Ester Copley, a Hebrew to English translator accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters, affirmed on 9 July 2021 confirming that she had checked and confirmed the English translation of the Israeli withholding tax ruling that was included in the Scheme Booklet.
Formal requirements to exercise s 411(1) power
7 Section 411(1) of the Act confers a power on the Court to order a meeting of members to be convened and to approve the relevant explanatory statement.
8 I am satisfied that the evidence upon which DTS relies is sufficient to establish each of the following matters that have been considered necessary preconditions to the Court making orders for the convening of a scheme meeting: Australian Leaders Fund Ltd v Equity Trustees Ltd, in the matter of Australian Leaders Fund Ltd  FCA 88 (Leaders Fund) at  (Stewart J) citing Amcom Telecommunications Limited, in the matter of Amcom Telecommunications Limited  FCA 341 (Amcon) at  (McKerracher J); Staging Connections Group Limited, in the matter of Staging Connections Group Limited  FCA 1012 at - (Gleeson J); and Xplore Wealth Limited, in the matter of Xplore Wealth Limited  FCA 1868 at  (Markovic J); see also Signature Capital Investments Limited, in the matter of Signature Capital Investments Limited  FCA 258 at  (Farrell J):
(a) DTS is a Part 5.1 body;
(b) the Scheme Participants are members of DTS;
(c) the Scheme Meeting will be convened between members of the same class;
(d) the Scheme is bona fide and properly proposed;
(e) ASIC has had a reasonable opportunity to examine the terms of the Scheme and the Scheme Booklet and make any submissions to the Court;
(f) the Scheme Booklet provides adequate disclosure; and
(g) the Scheme can properly be described as an arrangement or a compromise.
9 Once the preconditions to the exercise of power under s 411(1) to order the convening of a meeting have been satisfied, it is then necessary to consider whether that power ought to be exercised pursuant to the Court’s discretion.
Relevant principles for the exercise of discretion
10 The Court will not ordinarily make orders for the convening of a scheme meeting unless the scheme is of such a nature and cast on such terms that if it receives the statutory majority at the meeting, the Court would be likely to approve it on the hearing of an application that was not opposed: FT Eastment & Sons Pty Ltd v Metal Roof Decking Supplies Pty Ltd (1977) 3 ACLR 69, 69 and 72 (Street CJ, with whom Hutley and Samuels JJA agreed); approved in Australian Securities Commission v Marlborough Gold Mines Ltd (1993) 177 CLR 485;  HCA 15 at 504; Re Central Pacific Minerals NL  FCA 239 at ; and CSR Limited, in the matter of CSR Limited (2010) 183 FCR 358;  FCAFC 34 at .
11 At the first court hearing, the Court exercises its supervisory jurisdiction in order to review the scheme and the explanatory statement and to raise any queries that it might have with the plaintiff: Alstom Signalling Solutions Pty Ltd, in the matter of Alstom Signalling Solutions Pty Ltd v Alstom Transport Australia Pty Limited  FCA 838 at  (Gleeson J). The Court needs to be satisfied that there are no obvious flaws in the scheme and that there is an adequate explanation provided to persons who have a financial interest in the proposed scheme: In the matter of Coca-Cola Amatil Limited  NSWSC 270 at  (Black J) (Coca-Cola Amatil).
12 The Court should consider at the first court hearing whether the proposed scheme is not inappropriate and whether it is one that sensible business people might consider is of benefit to its members: Leaders Fund at  citing Re Sonodyne International Ltd (1994) 15 ACSR 494 at 499 per (Hayne J); Integra Mining Limited, in the matter of Integra Mining Limited  FCA 1414 at  (McKerracher J); and Amcon at .
13 The Court does not need to be satisfied that no better scheme could have been proposed and ultimately that is a question for the members themselves to determine at the scheme meeting: Associated Advisory Practices Limited, in the matter of Associated Advisory Practices Limited  FCA 761 at  (Farrell J); Coca-Cola Amatil at ; and Leaders Fund at .
14 Although the second court hearing is when the Court makes its final determination, in practice, the first court hearing is where the Court will typically intervene if it has concerns. A reason that has been advanced for this is that the market views the approval by the Court of the convening of scheme meetings as providing assurance that the scheme, at least in form and substance, has received a preliminary clearance by the Court and that trading in the company’s securities thereafter will proceed on that basis: Re Archaean Gold NL (1997) 23 ACSR 143 at 147; and Leaders Fund at .
15 At the outset it is important to note that the directors of DTS have unanimously recommended that Scheme Participants vote in favour of the Scheme in the absence of a superior proposal and that Mr McCourt, the independent expert retained by DTS, has concluded that the Scheme is fair and reasonable and therefore in the best interests of Scheme Participants.
16 Given the ex parte nature of an application for orders pursuant to s 411(1) of the Act, the following matters were specifically drawn to my attention by Mr Oakes SC, who appeared for DTS, in the course of his oral and written submissions. For the reasons outlined below, I am satisfied that none of these matters would cause me to decline to convene a meeting in the present case.
Performance risk and Israeli withholding tax
17 In considering whether to approve a scheme involving the participation of persons other than the company and its members, the Court typically wishes to ensure that those persons (commonly referred to as outsiders) are bound to perform the role assigned to them and that those obligations are able to be enforced. The obligations of outsiders are not captured by s 411 of the Act, which is confined to the plaintiff company and its members, unless the outsider is formally joined to the proceedings: Westfield Holdings Limited (2004) 49 ACSR 734;  NSWSC 458 at 739 (Barrett J).
18 In this case the relevant outsiders are Bidco, an entity acting as the Paying Agent and an entity acting as the Withholding Agent.
19 The obligations of Bidco are secured by a deed poll in favour of the Scheme Participants executed on 27 May 2021.
20 In the present case, the Israeli withholding tax obligations need to be satisfied. While not all Scheme Participants will be subject to those tax obligations, it will be necessary for each of them to satisfy the Israeli tax authority that they are either exempt or have paid the amount owed.
21 The Scheme provides that the consideration received from Bidco will be paid into a trust account of the Paying Agent. The Paying Agent is responsible for collecting documentation from Scheme Participants necessary to establish their entitlement to an exemption from paying Israeli withholding tax. The Paying Agent is required to then remit any Israeli withholding tax payable to the Withholding Agent, which in turn is required to remit the funds to the Israeli Tax Authority.
22 In Re Buka Minerals NL (1983) 8 ACLR 507 at 510, McLelland J considered how best to secure the obligations of outsiders to a scheme, including by use of a deed poll or a trustee arrangement. The deed poll alternative has since emerged as the primary method to secure obligations of outsiders: see by way of example, Leaders Fund at ; and Coca-Cola Amatil at .
23 A trustee arrangement rather than a deed poll to secure the obligations of outsiders has been accepted by the Court: see by way of example, In the matter of BINGO Industries Limited  NSWSC 798 at  (Black J) (BINGO Industries).
24 The obligations of the Paying Agent and the Withholding Agent are secured by deeds executed on 8 July 2021 pursuant to which each entity is expressed to be a trustee for the Scheme Participants, thus establishing a direct trustee-beneficiary relationship between each entity and the Scheme Participants.
25 Israeli withholding tax will be deducted in an amount equal to 25% of any Scheme Consideration received by Scheme Participants, unless they provide documentation that establishes that they are exempt. In those circumstances it is important that this matter is specifically brought to the attention of Scheme Participants. The existence of the Israeli withholding tax issue is disclosed in the Scheme Booklet. These disclosures include prominent “health warnings”, as described by Mr Oakes SC, and are contained in: the “Frequently Asked Questions” in sections 4.7 and 4.8, with cross-references to the further comprehensive explanations provided in section 2.2; the Israeli tax letter in section 12; the Israeli withholding tax ruling in annexure B; and cl 5 of the Scheme Implementation Deed contained in Annexure D. I am satisfied that these disclosures, including the amendments to the “health warnings” in response to concerns that I raised in the course of the hearing and the revised form of the orders providing for the follow up to Scheme Participants who have not returned the exemption documentation, are sufficient to draw the Israeli withholding tax issue to the attention of the Scheme Participants.
26 The Scheme contains exclusivity provisions which DTS has granted in favour of Bidco. These include “no shop”, “no talk” and “no due diligence” restrictions that apply to DTS, together with a “notification obligation” that applies to DTS and a “matching right” for Bidco. These restrictions and regime are subject to exceptions to the extent that they are inconsistent with fiduciary or statutory duties owed by the directors of DTS.
27 Exclusivity restrictions in this form are now common in s 411 schemes and are consistent with the terms of the Takeovers Panel Guidance Note 7: Australian Government Takeovers Panel, Guidance Note 7, Lock-up devices, Fourth Issue, 11 February 2010 (Guidance Note 7). They have not been regarded as an impediment to the convening of a meeting to approve a scheme, subject to appropriate disclosure in the scheme booklet: Re Toll Holdings Limited  VSC 123 at  (Robson J); Re Skilled Group Limited (No 1) (2015) 113 ACSR 525;  VSC 789 at  (Robson J); Coca-Cola Amatil at ; and BINGO Industries at  (Black J).
28 I am satisfied that the exclusivity provisions pursuant to cl 11 of the Scheme Implementation Deed are sufficiently disclosed in section 13.1(c) of the Scheme Booklet.
29 Pursuant to cl 12 of the Scheme Implementation Deed, DTS must pay Bidco a break fee of $935,000 in the circumstances there prescribed (DTS Break Fee).
30 Break fees are not uncommon features in schemes of arrangement and have not been an obstacle to the making of orders under s 411(1) of the Act. They have been justified by reference to the costs incurred by the bidder, the benefit the bidder confers on scheme participants by increasing the value of the target company and the desirability, from the perspective of members, of the making of takeover offers to them: APN News & Media Limited, in the matter of APN News & Media Limited (2007) 62 ACSR 400;  FCA 770 (APN News) at - (Lindgren J).
31 No entitlement to the break fee arises if the shareholders do not approve the Scheme by the requisite majorities. I am therefore satisfied that it does not give rise to an inappropriate disincentive to Scheme Participants in their consideration of the proposed merger: Adelaide Bank Limited, in the matter of Adelaide Bank Limited  FCA 1582 at  (Lander J); and BINGO Industries at .
32 The DTS Break Fee is approximately 1% of the equity value of DTS, which is consistent with the Takeovers Panel’s guideline that break fees should not exceed 1% of the target’s equity value: Guidance Note 7 at ; and APN News at -.
33 I am also satisfied that the DTS Break Fee was arrived at as a result of negotiation between DTS and Bidco and that the directors of DTS consider that the amount of the break fee was reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances to secure the benefits to DTS and the Scheme Participants from the Scheme.
34 Further, the triggers for the payment of the DTS Break Fee, such as a change in the directors’ recommendation or the completion of a competing proposal, are consistent with the principles set forth in the Guidance Note 7 at .
35 Finally, I note that the existence of the DTS Break Fee is prominently disclosed in section 13.1(e) of the Scheme Booklet.
One class for voting purposes
36 There is a single class for voting purposes.
37 Clause 7.4 of the Scheme Implementation Deed provides that the Scheme Participants provide warranties to Bidco that all of their Scheme Shares are fully paid and free from any security interests, encumbrances or restrictions at the time of transfer.
38 The provision of warranties in this form has been held to be acceptable, provided sufficient disclosure of their existence is made in the explanatory statement to shareholders: APN News at -;
39 The rationale for the inclusion of such warranties is to ensure that scheme participants whose shares are subject to an encumbrance are not unfairly advantaged: Coca-Cola Amatil at  citing Talent2 International Limited, in the matter of Talent2 International Limited  FCA 771 at ; Atlassian Corporation Pty Limited, in the matter of Atlassian Corporation Pty Limited  FCA 1451 at ; In the matter of Ardent Leisure Limited trading as Ardent Leisure Limited; Ardent Leisure Management Limited in its capacity as the responsible entity of the Ardent Leisure Trust  NSWSC 1665 at ; In the matter of Villa World Limited (2019) 139 ACSR 550;  NSWSC 1207 at ; and In the matter of Windlab Limited  NSWSC 571 at .
40 The existence of the warranties in cl 7.4 of the Scheme Implementation Deed are prominently disclosed in sections 4.19 (Frequently Asked Questions), 7.5 and 13.1(f) of the Scheme Booklet.
41 I am satisfied that the deemed warranties in cl 7.4 of the Scheme Implementation Deed are acceptable and the disclosure of them is sufficient.
Hybrid Meeting of Shareholders
42 Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the holding of meetings in person, courts have been prepared to approve the holding of virtual meetings of scheme participants to approve schemes: In the matter of Ellerston Global Investments Limited  NSWSC 879 at  (Black J).
43 In light of the continuing uncertainties caused by COVID-19 restrictions, including lockdowns in response to the Delta variant of the virus, it is proposed that a hybrid meeting of DTS shareholders be convened where the face-to-face part of the meeting is to be held in Perth, but it is to be chaired remotely from New South Wales. An order permitting the chair or alternate chair of the meeting to attend and chair a meeting by video link technology was made by Farrell J in Palladium Group Holdings Pty Ltd, in the matter of Palladium Group Holdings Pty Ltd  FCA 1123, a matter in which senior counsel for the plaintiff in the present case appeared.
44 It is also proposed that “hard copy shareholders” will be sent a hard copy letter with an electronic link to access the Scheme Booklet online, rather than a hard copy of the Scheme Booklet. Significantly, the proposed hard copy letter concludes with the statement:
If you would like to receive a hard copy Scheme Booklet or if you have any questions, please call the DTS Share Registry on +61 8 9389 8033 Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm (Perth time).
45 The provision of an electronic link to the Scheme Booklet is consistent with the procedure that was provided for in s 5(1)(f) of the Corporations (Coronavirus Economic Response) Determination (No. 3) 2020 (Cth) (Coronavirus Determination). This was a special arrangement instituted to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. It contained a sunset clause, but this has not been extended. I note, however, that on 29 March 2021, ASIC issued a media release in which it announced that it would adopt a “no-action” position with respect to the convening and holding of virtual meetings, notwithstanding that the Coronavirus Determination ceased to have effect on 21 March 2021.
46 An order was recently made in Coca-Cola Amatil providing for the distribution of scheme documents through the provision of an URL link in an email to shareholders who had an email address recorded with the share registry. The documents accessible by the link comprised the scheme booklet, a personalised proxy form and a scheme meeting online guide which contained instructions regarding how to best participate in a virtual meeting: Coca-Cola Amatil at .
47 In any event, as Banks-Smith J found in Asaleo Care Limited, in the matter of Asaleo Care Limited  FCA 406 at , ss 411 and 1319 of the Act provide the Court with power to make an order that a meeting take place virtually. As noted by her Honour, ss 411 and 1319 have been relied upon in an environment where COVID-19 risks must be taken into account, citing by way of example the decision of Moshinsky J in Sienna Cancer Diagnostics Limited, in the matter of Sienna Cancer Diagnostics Limited  FCA 899 at -.
Approval of the Scheme Booklet by the Court
48 The plaintiff seeks an order that the Court approve the distribution of the explanatory statement to Scheme Participants. Sub-section 411(1) of the Act provides that if the Court has made an order convening a meeting of members or creditors, it may also “approve the explanatory statement”.
49 I am satisfied in this case, for the reasons outlined above, that it is appropriate for an order to be made approving the distribution of the Scheme Booklet to Scheme Participants.
50 On the basis of the material provided to the Court and the considerations outlined above, I am satisfied that the formal requirements contained in s 411 of the Act for the convening of a meeting of members to consider the Scheme and to approve the Scheme Booklet for circulation to members of DTS have been met. I am satisfied that the discretion of the Court should otherwise be exercised to order the convening of a meeting of the shareholders of DTS and to approve the Scheme Booklet for distribution to Scheme Participants.
51 The orders sought by DTS should therefore be made.