Audit Committee Charter
The purpose of the Audit Committee (the “Audit Committee”) of the Board of Directors (the “Board”) of Tucows Inc. (the “Company”) shall be to:
- Provide oversight of the Company’s accounting and financial reporting processes and the audit of the Company’s financial statements;
- Assist the Board in oversight of (i) the integrity of the Company’s financial statements, (ii) the Company’s compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, (iii) the qualifications, independence and performance of the Company’s independent registered public accounting firm, and (iv) the Company’s internal accounting and financial controls;
- Provide to the Board such information and materials as it may deem necessary to make the Board aware of significant financial matters that require the attention of the Board; and
- Oversee the management of risks associated with the Company’s financial reporting, accounting and auditing matters.
In furtherance of these purposes, the Audit Committee will undertake those specific duties and responsibilities listed below and such other duties as the Board may from time to time prescribe.
The Audit Committee’s responsibility is one of oversight. The members of the Audit Committee are not employees of the Company, and they do not perform, or represent that they perform, the functions of management or the independent auditor. The Audit Committee relies on the expertise and knowledge of management and the independent auditor in carrying out its oversight responsibilities. The management of the Company is responsible for preparing accurate and complete financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) and for establishing and maintaining appropriate accounting principles and financial reporting policies and satisfactory internal control over financial reporting. The independent auditor is responsible for auditing the Company’s annual consolidated financial statements and the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting and reviewing the Company’s quarterly financial statements. It is not the responsibility of the Audit Committee to prepare or certify the Company’s financial statements or guarantee the audits or reports of the independent auditor, nor is it the duty of the Audit Committee to certify that the independent auditor is “independent” under applicable rules. These are the fundamental responsibilities of management and the independent auditor.
The Audit Committee members shall be appointed by, and shall serve at the discretion of, the Board. The Audit Committee shall consist of at least three members of the Board. The Board may designate one member of the Audit Committee as its chair. The Audit Committee may form and delegate authority to subcommittees when appropriate. Members of the Audit Committee must meet the following criteria (as well as any other criteria required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), the Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. Marketplace Rules (the “Nasdaq Rules”), or applicable law, or as established by the Board from time to time):
- Each member must be an independent director in accordance with (i) the audit committee requirements of the Nasdaq Rules and (ii) Rule 10A-3 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended;
- Each member must be able to read and understand fundamental financial statements, including the Company’s balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement, in accordance with the Audit Committee requirements of the Nasdaq Rules;
- At least one member must have past employment experience in finance or accounting, requisite professional certification in accounting, or other comparable experience or background resulting in such member’s financial sophistication, including a current or past position as a principal financial officer or other senior officer with financial oversight responsibilities; and
At least one member must be an “audit committee financial expert” as defined in Item 407(d)(5)(ii) of Regulation S-K promulgated under the Securities Act of 1933.
The following are the principal recurring responsibilities of the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee may perform such other functions as are consistent with its purpose and applicable law, rules and regulations and as the Board or the Audit Committee deem appropriate. In carrying out its responsibilities, the Audit Committee believes its policies and procedures should remain flexible, in order to best react to changing conditions and circumstances.
1. Select and Hire the Independent Auditor. The Audit Committee shall be responsible for appointing, compensating, retaining and, where appropriate, replacing the independent auditor. The independent auditor will report directly to the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee shall have sole authority to approve the hiring and discharging of the independent auditor, all audit engagement fees and terms and all permissible non-audit engagements with the independent auditor. The Audit Committee shall also appoint, retain, compensate, oversee and where appropriate, replace any other registered public accounting firm engaged for the purpose of preparing or issuing an audit report or performing other audit, review or attest services for the Company.
2. Supervise and Evaluate the Independent Auditor. The Audit Committee shall:
- Oversee and evaluate the work of the independent auditor and any other registered public accounting firm engaged for the purpose of preparing or issuing an audit report or performing other audit, review or attestation services for the Company, which evaluation shall include a review and evaluation of the lead partner of the independent auditor. The Audit Committee shall review, in consultation with the independent auditor, the annual audit plan and scope of audit activities and monitor such plan’s progress.
- Review and resolve any disagreements that may arise between management and the independent auditor regarding internal controls or financial reporting.
- At least annually, obtain and review a report by the independent auditor that describes (i) the independent auditor’s internal quality control procedures and (ii) any material issues raised by the most recent internal quality-control review, peer review, or Public Company Accounting Oversight Board review of the independent auditor or by any other inquiry or investigation by governmental or professional authorities, within the preceding five years (or such other period as may be requested by the Audit Committee), regarding any independent audit performed by the independent auditor, and any steps taken to deal with any such issues.
- Review and discuss with the independent auditor the written independence disclosure required by the applicable requirements of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.
3. Evaluate the Independence of the Independent Auditor. The Audit Committee shall:
- Review and discuss with the independent auditor on a periodic basis any other relationships or services (including permissible non-audit services) that may affect its objectivity and independence.
- Oversee the rotation of the independent auditor’s lead audit and concurring partners and the rotation of other audit partners, with applicable time-out periods, in accordance with applicable law. Oversee the creation and maintenance of a corporate policy governing the hiring of former employees of the independent auditor as employees or independent consultants to the Company.
- Take, or recommend to the Board that it take, appropriate action to oversee the independence of the Company’s independent auditor.
4. Approve Audit and Non-Audit Services and Fees. The Audit Committee shall (i) review and approve, in advance, the scope and plans for the audits and the audit fees and (ii) approve in advance (or, where permitted under the rules and regulations of the SEC, subsequently) all non- audit services to be performed by the independent auditor or any other registered public accounting firm that are not otherwise prohibited by law and any associated fees. The Audit Committee chairperson may pre-approve audit and permissible non-audit services and any associated fees, as long as such pre-approval is presented to the full Audit Committee at scheduled meetings. The Audit Committee may, in accordance with applicable law, establish pre- approval policies and procedures for the engagement of independent accountants to render services to the Company.
5. Review Financial Statements. The Audit Committee shall review and discuss the following with management and the independent auditor, as applicable:
- The scope and timing of the annual audit of the Company’s financial statements.
- The Company’s annual audited and quarterly financial statements and annual and quarterly reports on Form 10-K and 10-Q, including the disclosures in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”, and recommend to the Board whether the audited financial statements and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” should be included in the Company’s periodic reports to be filed with the SEC.
- The results of the independent audit and the quarterly reviews, and the independent auditor’s opinion on the annual financial statements.
- The reports and certifications regarding internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures.
- Major issues regarding accounting principles and financial statement presentations, including any significant changes in the Company’s selection or application of accounting principles.
- Analyses prepared by management or the independent auditor setting forth significant financial reporting issues and judgments made in connection with the preparation of the financial statements.
- The effect of regulatory and accounting initiatives on the Company’s financial statements.
- Any significant changes required or taken in the audit plan as a result of any material control deficiency.
- Any problems or difficulties the independent auditor encountered in the course of its audit work, including any restrictions on the scope of the auditor’s activities or on access to requested information, and management’s response.
- Any significant disagreements between management and the independent auditor.
6. Reports and Communications from the Independent Auditor. The Audit Committee shall review and discuss quarterly reports from the independent auditor concerning the following:
- All critical accounting policies and practices to be used by the Company.
- All alternative treatments of financial information within GAAP that the auditor has discussed with management, ramifications of the use of these alternative disclosures and treatments, and the treatment preferred by the independent auditor if different from that used by management.
- Other material written communications between the independent auditor and management, such as any management letter or schedule of unadjusted differences.
- Other matters required to be communicated to the Audit Committee under generally accepted auditing standards and other legal or regulatory requirements, including any matters required to be communicated under PCAOB Auditing Standards No. 16, Communications with Audit Committees.
7. Audit Committee Report. The Audit Committee shall prepare the report of the Audit Committee that SEC rules require to be included in the Company’s annual proxy statement.
8. Earnings Press Releases and Earnings Guidance. The Audit Committee shall review and discuss earnings press releases (with particular attention to any use of non-GAAP financial measures), as well as financial information. The Board of Directors or its designee shall review earnings guidance provided to the public, analysts and ratings agencies, including to the extent practical reviewing in advance the script for any earnings or finance-related conference calls to be held for the benefit of the public, analysts and ratings agencies.
9. Internal Controls. The Audit Committee shall review and discuss with management and the independent auditor the adequacy and effectiveness of the Company’s internal controls, including any changes, significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in those controls reported by the independent auditor or management, any special audit steps adopted in light of significant control deficiencies, and any fraud, whether or not material, that involves management or other Company employees who have a significant role in the Company’s internal controls.
10. Disclosure Controls and Procedures. The Audit Committee shall review and discuss the adequacy and effectiveness of the Company’s disclosure controls and procedures.
11. Legal and Regulatory Compliance. The Audit Committee shall review and discuss with management, counsel and the independent auditor (i) the overall adequacy and effectiveness of the Company’s legal, regulatory and ethical compliance programs, including the Company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and compliance with export control regulations and (ii) reports regarding compliance with applicable laws, regulations and internal compliance programs in each case to the extent pertaining to financial, accounting and/or tax matters. The Audit Committee shall discuss with management, counsel, outside legal counsel, and/or the independent auditor any correspondence with regulators or governmental agencies and any published reports that raise material issues regarding the Company’s financial statements or accounting policies. The Audit Committee shall discuss with the Company’s general counsel and/or outside legal counsel legal matters that may have a material impact on the financial statements or the Company’s compliance procedures that pertain to financial, accounting or tax matters of the Company.
12. Complaints. The Audit Committee shall oversee procedures established for the receipt, retention and treatment of complaints on accounting, internal accounting controls or audit matters, as well as for confidential and anonymous submissions by the Company’s employees concerning questionable accounting or auditing matters.
13. Risks. The Audit Committee shall review and discuss with management and the independent auditor, as appropriate, the Company’s major financial risk exposures and the steps management has taken to monitor and control those exposures, including the Company’s guidelines and policies with respect to risk assessment and risk management pertaining to financial, accounting and tax matters.
14. Related Party Transactions. The Audit Committee shall review the Company’s related party transaction policy and review and oversee all transactions between the Company and a related person for which review or oversight is required by applicable law or that are required to be disclosed in the Company’s financial statements or SEC filings.
15. Hiring of Auditor Personnel. The Audit Committee shall set hiring policies for the Company with regard to employees and former employees of the Company’s independent auditor.
The function of the Audit Committee is primarily one of oversight. The Company’s management is responsible for preparing the Company’s financial statements, and the independent auditor is responsible for auditing and reviewing those financial statements. The Audit Committee is responsible for assisting the Board in overseeing the conduct of these activities by management and the independent auditor. The Audit Committee is not responsible for providing any expert or special assurance as to the financial statements or the independent auditor’s work. It is recognized that the members of the Audit Committee are not full-time employees of the Company, that it is not the duty or responsibility of the Audit Committee or its members to conduct “field work” or other types of auditing or accounting reviews or procedures or to set auditor independence standards, and that each member of the Audit Committee shall be entitled to rely on (i) the integrity of those persons and organizations within and outside the Company from which the Audit Committee receives information and (ii) the accuracy of the financial and other information provided to the Audit Committee, in either instance absent actual knowledge to the contrary.
Meetings and Procedures
- The Audit Committee will meet at least four (4) times each year (with additional meetings as it deems necessary or appropriate) at such times and places as the Audit Committee determines, including by telephone or Internet-facilitated meeting. The chairperson of the Audit Committee shall preside at each meeting. If a chairperson is not designated or present, an acting chair may be designated by the Audit Committee members present. The Audit Committee may act by written consent (which may include electronic consent), which shall constitute a valid action of the Audit Committee if it has been approved by each Audit Committee member and shows the date of approval. Any written consent will be effective on the date of the last signature and will be filed with the minutes of the meetings of the Board.
- The Audit Committee shall cause to be kept written minutes of its proceedings, which minutes will be filed with the minutes of the meeting of the Board.
- The Audit Committee shall meet periodically with members of management and the independent auditor in separate executive sessions as the Audit Committee deems appropriate.
- The Audit Committee may invite to its meetings any director, officer or employee of the Company and such other persons as it deems appropriate in order to carry out its responsibilities. The Audit Committee may also exclude from its meetings any persons it deems appropriate in order to carry out its responsibilities, including non-management directors who are not members of the Audit Committee.
2. Reporting to the Board of Directors. The Audit Committee shall report regularly to the Board with respect to the Audit Committee’s activities, including any significant issues that arise with respect to the quality or integrity of the Company’s financial statements, the Company’s compliance with legal or regulatory requirements or the performance and independence of the Company’s independent auditor, as applicable.
3. Authority to Retain Advisors. The Audit Committee shall have the authority to engage independent counsel or other advisors as it deems necessary or appropriate to carry out its duties. The Company will provide appropriate funding, as determined by the Audit Committee, to pay the independent auditor, any outside advisors hired by the Audit Committee and any administrative expenses of the Audit Committee that are necessary or appropriate in carrying out its activities.
4. Subcommittees. The Audit Committee may form subcommittees for any purpose that the Audit Committee deems appropriate and may delegate to such subcommittees such power and authority as the Audit Committee deems appropriate. If designated, each such subcommittee will establish its own schedule and maintain written minutes of its meetings, which minutes will be filed with the minutes of the meetings of the Board. The Audit Committee shall not delegate to a subcommittee any power or authority required by law, regulation or listing standard to be exercised by the Audit Committee as a whole.
5. Committee Charter Review The Audit Committee shall review and reassess the adequacy of this charter annually and shall submit any recommended changes to this charter to the Board for approval.
6. Performance Review. The members of the Audit Committee shall review and assess the performance of the Audit Committee on an annual basis.
7. Authority to Investigate. In the course of its duties, the Audit Committee shall have authority, at the Company’s expense, to investigate any matter brought to its attention.
8. Access. The Audit Committee shall be given full access to the chairperson of the Board, management and the independent auditor, as well as the Company’s books, records, facilities and other personnel.
9. Compensation. Members of the Audit Committee shall receive such fees, if any, for their service as Audit Committee members as may be determined by the Board in its sole discretion. Members of the Audit Committee may not receive any compensation from the Company except the fees that they receive for service as members of the Board or any committee thereof.