ROYAL Bank of Scotland’s annual meeting in May saw some punchy exchanges between the lender’s senior leadership and some pretty hacked off shareholders. And one of the most heated moments came when chairman Sir Howard Davies explained why the bank could not hold a vote on a resolution calling for a shareholder committee to be set up at the state-backed institution.

Sir Howard steadfastly maintained the line that the bank could not accede to the resolution because it would run counter to UK company law and its own constitution. It was all very frustrating for one investor, who claimed the bank was effectively hiding behind its lawyers on the issue.

Now the matter has cropped up again. Having been rebuffed this year, investor group ShareSoc has returned with a fresh requisition for a resolution, this time one that it believes will not be stymied by academic technicalities.

Looking in from the outside, it is hard to see what Royal Bank would have to lose in setting up such a committee. Of course already shareholders get a say on how the firms they invest in are run. They can vote on matters such as director remuneration, for example. But in this case there is arguably much to be gained by establishing a more formal, and regular, channel of communication between leaders and shareholders. It is not as if there is no precedence for such a move, with Norges Bank having had shareholder committees for many years. With Royal Bank having lost none of its capacity for generating negative headlines, any help it can get to improve its public image must surely be welcome.