For those interested in a summary and update of the SEC’s and its staff’s targeted relief to address COVID-19, you may want to look at this updated statement issued today by SEC Chair Jay Clayton and the Directors of Corp Fin, Investment Management and Trading and Markets.  The statement summarizes the current temporary relief and indicates the staff’s views on whether the relief should be extended or otherwise adjusted: “It is clear that the need for certain relief remains, such as relief to ensure continued remote operations and to provide flexibility in light of continued market volatility.  Other forms of current relief, however, are unlikely to be extended.” 

In some cases, the staff has already extended the relief—see, e.g., this PubCo post, describing the extensions, for an indeterminate period, of temporary relief addressing various logistical issues and other complications resulting from the COVID-19-related shutdowns. The relief related to authentication document retention requirements under Rule 302(b) of Reg S-T, submission of Forms 144 in paper and submission of a variety of other paper forms outside of Form 144.  In other cases, such as relief in connection with shareholder meetings (see this PubCo post), the staff’s positions “continue in effect, although the staff expects that the number of companies availing themselves of the relief will decrease as the bulk of annual shareholder meetings typically are held in the first half of the calendar year.”

The newsworthy information from Corp Fin in the statement relates to the March 2020 temporary conditional reporting relief for certain public company filing obligations.  The relief provides public companies with a 45-day extension to file certain disclosure reports that would otherwise have been due on or before July 1, 2020.  (See this PubCo post.) The SEC extended the relief once in March; however, Corp Fin now “believes that further extension of this relief is unnecessary.” The statement explains that as “market participants have worked to implement business continuity plans and adjusted in many cases to a more remote and distributed workforce, the present need for extensions of certain regulatory deadlines has diminished.”

Posted by Cydney Posner