Doctrine of Ultra Vires-Effects and Exceptions
The object clause of the Memorandum of the company contains the object for which the company is formed. An act of the company must not be beyond the objects clause, otherwise it will be ultra vires and, therefore, void and cannot be ratified even if all the members wish to ratify it. This is called the doctrine of ultra vires, which has been firmly established in the case of Ashtray Railway Carriage and Iron Company Ltd v. Riche. Thus the expression ultra vires means an act beyond the powers. Here the expression ultra vires is used to indicate an act of the company which is beyond the powers conferred on the company by the objects clause of its memorandum. An ultra vires act is void and cannot be ratified even if all the directors wish to ratify it. Sometimes the expression ultra vires is used to describe the situation when the directors of a company have exceeded the powers delegated to them. Where a company exceeds its power as conferred on it by the objects clause of its memorandum, it is not bound by it because it lacks legal capacity to incur responsibility for the action, but when the directors of a company have exceeded the powers delegated to them. This use must be avoided for it is apt to cause confusion between two entirely distinct legal principles. Consequently, here we restrict the meaning of ultra vires objects clause of the company’s memorandum.
Basic principles included the following: 1. An ultra vires transaction cannot be ratified by all the shareholders, even if they wish it to be ratified. 2. The doctrine of estoppel usually precluded reliance on the defense of ultra vires where the transaction was fully performed by one party 3. A fortiori, a transaction which was fully performed by both parties could not be attacked. 4. If the contract was fully executory, the defense of ultra vires might be raised by either party. 5. If the contract was partially performed, and the