One WSRA member has brought to our attention an idea – the option to abstain – concerning proxy forms. Yes, sorry, it’s the old proxy form issue again.

As you may gather, we at WSRA+ are trying to encourage those WSRA members who use proxy forms to ensure they “instruct” their proxy with their own voting choices. The best way to do this, we think, is to complete the voting choices before returning the form.

Leaving the boxes empty presents the proxy an opportunity to put their own choice in the box. OK, we recognise sometimes the absent member is happy to allow a trustworthy proxy to decide for them. But then again sometimes the absent member may not want the proxy to decide.

This issue becomes an issue when the absent member may be wish to vote for/against some resolutions but does not wish to vote for/against a particular resolution and so leaves the boxes blank against that resolution.

So, our WSRA member has suggested an abstention box, a third column if you like, a third option, that allows the absent member to mark a choice against all resolutions and thus remove any risk of misrepresentation.

Perhaps WSRA members who would like to see an abstention option might like to consider writing to the WSRA at manager@wsra.org.uk and express a view? Who knows – the WSRA might be encouraged to adopt an abstention option to the next proxy forms to be issued.

UPDATE: some WSRA members have helpfully pointed out the Companies Act does not allow for abstentions (as a separate option). Chapter and verse is often useful when digging in the giant tome that is the Companies Act, however we can’t find any reference in the Companies Act that specifically rules out abstentions. It doesn’t actually say much about “for” and “against” either! Perhaps that third option – “abstain” – might be OK within the Act despite what WSRA’s legal advisers might say?

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