Dictionary

  • Ultra vires

    (in the context of corporate law)
    An exceeding of legal powers. Ultra vires is often classified as narrow or broad, where the action taken is literally outside the scope of the legal powers conferred on the actor; broad, where although the action itself is within the actor’s legal powers, the manner in which it was done is the vitiating factor (as where there was improper motive, unreaonableness, an irrellevant consideration, or abuse of disctretionary power). Ultra vires is mainly invoked in two contexts: (1) in the judicial review of delegated legislation; and (2) in administrative law, as a ground of complaint against public bodies and officials (and possibly private bodies), the appropriate remedies being mandamus, declatory judgment and injunction. Ultra vires was also formerly invoked in company law, but in Australia this application is now virtually obsolete, as there is no longer any manadatory limitation to a company’s powers.

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