Commonwealth Bank hearing

On 1 June we were in court for a hearing in our case against the Commonwealth Bank.

This important test case is about the rights of shareholders to put ordinary resolutions to company AGMs.

With the power and reach of corporations growing around the world, any extra avenue to hold them accountable for their actions is a welcome boost to efforts to make a better world. If our case succeeds, it will provide an important new avenue for shareholders to promote corporate social responsibility. 

Our client in this matter, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, have put an ordinary shareholder resolution to the Commonwealth Bank asking the bank to report on the bank’s financing of fossil fuels and exposure to risk from climate change.

Commonwealth Bank declined to put the resolution at their AGM. At the hearing, we argued that the Corporations Act requires the bank to consider the shareholder resolution.

Right now, Australian law is unclear about whether shareholders have the right to put ordinary resolutions to company AGMs, and, when it suits them, companies have been acting on the assumption that they do not. This case will set a precedent which will apply to future AGMs of listed companies in Australia.
Big thanks to the group of dedicated supporters who made time in their day to show up in the public gallery. It possibly wasn’t the most exciting 6 hours of their lives but it meant a lot that as we took on the wealth and power of one of Australia’s biggest corporations, people were there to support us.


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