Ultra Vires

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Legal Definition and Related Resources of Ultra Vires

Meaning of Ultra Vires

Literally the term means beyond powers. In relation to corporations, an act is said to be ultra vires when it is beyond the purpose or power of a corporation, when such acts, though not illegal, are outside the scope of general express or implied authority, as defined by its charter or by laws or the statute under which it is incorporated. See Central Transp. Co., v Pulmans Palace Car Co., 139 U.S. 24, 11 S.Ct. 478, 35 L.Ed.55; Also U.S. Rubber Products v Batesburg, 183 S.C. 49, 190 S. £ 120. The term is also used in a secondary sense in respect to corporate acts, as some- thig beyond the power of the majority to bind dessenting stockholders or something in violation of the legal rights of creditors, and sometimes in the sense merely of something beyond the authority of corporate agents or executive officers. The primary meaning applies only when the public is concerned. The secondary meaning applies when the issue is between the corporation and its shareholders or creditors, or other parties dealing with it or between it and its agents or executive officers. See Minnesota Thresher Manufacturing Co. v Langdon, 46 N. W. 310, 44 Minn. 37.

Ultra Vires Alternative Definition

(Lat.) The modem technical designation, in the law of corporations, of acts beyond the scope of their powers, as defined by their charters or acts of incorporation; as distinguished from acts which are authorized. It was early contended that a corporation could not exceed its powers; that the acts of its agents beyond the charter powers of the corporation were not the acts of the corporation; but it is now well settled that “corporations, like natural persons, have power and capacity to do wrong. They may, in their dealings and contracts, break over the liability imposed upon them by their charters, and when they do so, their exemption from liability cannot be claimed on the mere ground that they have no attributes or faculties which render it possible for them to thus act.” 119 Ind. 324. The act need not necessarily be expressly prohibited by the charter or by statute. Nor need it be in any sense immoral or injurious to others. It may be an act which could be lawfully done by a natural personl It may be even praiseworthy, as in the case of a gift by a corporation for charitable or religious purpose. Yet, if it is not authorized by the charter of the corporation, or is not an implied or incidental power, it is ultra vires. 3 Fletcher Cyclopedia Corporations, 2571. There is much conflict in the cases as to the validity of an ultra vires contract. In some states, it is held that, if the corporation had no authority to make the contract, it is void, but if it was within the general scope of the corporate power, and the want of power in that case was because of particular facts, it is valid (43 Wis. 420; 8 Ohio 257) ; while in several states it is held that “the plea of ultra vires should not prevail, whether it is imposed for or against the corporation, when it would not advance justice, but, on the contrary, would accomplish a legal wrong (63 N. Y. 62; 151 111. 531).

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Ultra Vires in Historical Law

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Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

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Related Legal Terms

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United States Constitutional Meaning of Ultra Vires

An action by a person, corporation, or public agency that is beyond the actor's legitimate authority.

Latin Definition

beyond (its) power

Other Latin Constitutional Definitions in the Law Dictionary

  • dictum
  • in personam
  • in rem
  • ultra vires
  • per curiam
  • amicus curiae
  • ex post facto
  • ex parte
  • ex relatione
  • nolo contendere
  • de facto
  • de jure
  • in forma pauperis
  • in re
  • ratio decidendi
  • obiter dictum
  • seriatim
  • certiorari
  • stare decisis
  • subpoena
  • mandamus
  • habeas corpus

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This definition of Ultra Vires is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

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This entry was last modified: April 22, 2013

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Ultra Vires Administrative Law Category in the World Legal Wiki Encyclopedia
Ultra Vires Administrative Law Category in the European Legal Wiki Encyclopedia
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Constitutional Law in other Legal Encyclopedias



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Ultra Vires Constitutional Law Category in the World Legal Wiki Encyclopedia
Ultra Vires Constitutional Law Category in the European Legal Wiki Encyclopedia
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