Transfer money, submit your tax return, or even take care of your weekly shopping: Many things that people normally left the house to do ten, 15, or 20 years ago without even thinking about it can now be done online from the comfort of their living room. In some places, it’s even possible to get married via video chat. That’s not permitted for example in Germany, where a wedding is as much of a legal process as a romantic occasion and is therefore precisely regulated by the German Civil Code, section 1311 of which uncompromisingly stipulates that the parties contracting a marriage must be physically present in front of the official registrar at the same time.
So what does that have to do with Daimler’s Annual Shareholders’ Meeting? Well, consider the fact that up until recently, German laws governing annual shareholders’ meetings also required that these had, like weddings, to be “onsite events.” Still, Germany’s Stock Corporation Act already did allow digital participation to this extent: Companies were permitted to include clauses in their articles of incorporation that make it possible for shareholders to exercise their rights using electronic communication systems and without being physically present. This was meant to be more of an emergency option, however — one that can be used to supplement the physical meeting, not replace it.