Amendments to Companion Policy: NI - 52-110 - Audit Committees
Amendments to Companion Policy: NI - 52-110 - Audit Committees
AMENDMENTS TO COMPANION POLICY 52-110CP
TO MULTILATERAL INSTRUMENT 52-110 AUDIT COMMITTEES
1.1 Application to Non-Corporate Entities. Paragraph 1.2 of Companion Policy 52-110CP to Multilateral Instrument 52-110 Audit Committees ("52-110CP") is deleted and replaced by the following:
"1.2 Application to Non-Corporate Entities. The Instrument applies to both corporate and non-corporate entities. Where the Instrument or this Policy refers to a particular corporate characteristic, such as a board of directors, the reference should be read to also include any equivalent characteristic of a non-corporate entity. For example, in the case of a limited partnership, the directors of the general partner who are independent of the limited partnership (including the general partner) should form an audit committee which fulfils these responsibilities.
Income trust issuers should apply the Instrument in a manner which recognizes that certain functions of a corporate issuer, its board and its management may be performed by any or all of the trustees, the board or management of a subsidiary of the trust, or the board, management or employees of a management company. For this purpose, references to "the issuer" refer to both the trust and any underlying entities, including the operating entity.
If the structure of an issuer will not permit it to comply with the Instrument, the issuer should seek exemptive relief."
1.2 Meaning of Independence. Part Three of 52-110CP is deleted and replaced by the following:
3.1 Meaning of Independence. The Instrument generally requires every member of an audit committee to be independent. Subsection 1.4(1) of the Instrument defines independence to mean the absence of any direct or indirect material relationship between the director and the issuer. In our view, this may include a commercial, charitable, industrial, banking, consulting, legal, accounting or familial relationship, or any other relationship that the board considers to be material. Although shareholding alone may not interfere with the exercise of a director's independent judgement, we believe that other relationships between an issuer and a shareholder may constitute material relationships with the issuer, and should be considered by the board when determining a director's independence. However, only those relationships which could, in the view of the issuer's board of directors, be reasonably expected to interfere with the exercise of a member's independent judgement should be considered material relationships within the meaning of section 1.4.
Subsection 1.4(3) and section 1.5 of the Instrument describe those individuals that we believe have a relationship with an issuer that would reasonably be expected to interfere with the exercise of the individual's independent judgement. Consequently, these individuals are not considered independent for the purposes of the Instrument and are therefore precluded from serving on the issuer's audit committee. Directors and their counsel should therefore consider the nature of the relationships outlined in subsection 1.4(3) and section 1.5 as guidance in applying the general independence requirement set out in subsection 1.4(1).
3.2 Derivation of Definition. In the United States, listed issuers must comply with the audit committee requirements contained in SEC rules as well as the director independence and audit committee requirements of the applicable securities exchange or market. The definition of independence included in the Instrument has therefore been derived from both the applicable SEC rules and the corporate governance rules issued by the New York Stock Exchange. The portion of the definition of independence that parallels the NYSE rules is found in section 1.4 of the Instrument. Section 1.5 of the Instrument contains additional rules regarding audit committee member independence that were derived from the applicable SEC rules. To be independent for the purposes of the Instrument, a director must satisfy the requirements in both sections 1.4 and 1.5.
3.3 Safe Harbour. Subsection 1.3(1) of the Instrument provides, in part, that a person or company is an affiliated entity of another entity if the person or company controls the other entity. Subsection 1.3(4), however, provides that an individual will not be considered to control an issuer if the individual:
(a) owns, directly or indirectly, ten per cent or less of any class of voting equity securities of the issuer; and
(b) is not an executive officer of the issuer.
Subsection 1.3(4) is intended only to identify those individuals who are not considered to control an issuer. The provision is not intended to suggest that an individual who owns more than ten percent of an issuer's voting equity securities automatically controls an issuer. Instead, an individual who owns more than ten percent of an issuer's voting equity securities should examine all relevant facts and circumstances to determine if he or she controls the issuer and is therefore an affiliated entity within the meaning of subsection 1.3(1).
3.4 Remuneration of Chair of Board, Etc. Subsection 1.4(6) of the Instrument provides that, for the purpose of the prescribed relationship described in clause 1.4(3)(f), direct compensation does not include remuneration for acting as a member of the board of directors or of any board committee of the issuer. In our view, remuneration for acting as a member of the board also includes remuneration for acting as the chair of the board or of any committee of the board."
1.3. Disclosure of Relevant Education and Experience. Paragraph 4.2 of 52-110CP is deleted and replaced by the following:
"4.2 Disclosure of Relevant Education and Experience.
(1) Item 3 of Forms 52-110F1 and 52-110F2 require an issuer to disclose any education or experience of an audit committee member that would provide the member with, among other things, an understanding of the accounting principles used by the issuer to prepare its financial statements. The level of understanding that is requisite is influenced by the complexity of the business being carried on. For example, if the issuer is a complex financial institution, a greater degree of education and experience is necessary than would be the case for an audit committee member of an issuer with a more simple business.
(2) Item 3 of Forms 52-110F1 and 52-110F2 also require an issuer to disclose any experience that the member has, among other things, actively supervising persons engaged in preparing, auditing, analyzing or evaluating certain types of financial statements. The phrase active supervision means more than the mere existence of a traditional hierarchical reporting relationship between supervisor and those being supervised. An individual engaged in active supervision participates in, and contributes to, the process of addressing (albeit at a supervisory level) the same general types of issues regarding preparation, auditing, analysis or evaluation of financial statements as those addressed by the individual or individuals being supervised. The supervisor should also have experience that has contributed to the general expertise necessary to prepare, audit, analyze or evaluate financial statements that is at least comparable to the general expertise of those being supervised. An executive officer should not be presumed to qualify. An executive officer with considerable operations involvement, but little financial or accounting involvement, likely would not be exercising the necessary active supervision. Active participation in, and contribution to, the process, albeit at a supervisory level, of addressing financial and accounting issues that demonstrate a general expertise in the area would be necessary."