TORONTO -- Canada's most prominent banks and insurance companies have won the right to host their next annual general meetings online as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

In a joint statement from the top banks and insurers, they say they have obtained an order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that allows them to hold their 2021 annual meetings virtually.

The order allows the companies to conduct their meetings over webcasting, teleconference or other electronic means in lieu of meeting in-person.

They obtained a similar joint court order in March, when COVID-19 first started spreading across Canada.

The banks and insurers had to seek court permission to go virtual both times because laws and governance structures traditionally prevent them from hosting their annual general meetings online.

The 2021 exception was sought by the Royal Bank of Canada, TD Bank Group, Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, National Bank, Canadian Western Bank, Laurentian Bank, Sun Life Financial Inc., Great-West Lifeco, Manulife Financial Corp. and Canada Life.