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Ultra vires is a Latin term meaning "beyond powers". The term is usually used to refer to acts taken by a corporation or officers of a corporation that are taken outside of the powers or authority granted to them by law or under the corporate charter. Some states have enacted laws to prevent the use of the defense of ultra vires action to unfairly avoid obligations under otherwise valid contracts.
The concept of acting "under color of law" means acts are done while a person acts or purports to act in the performance of official duties under any state, county, or municipal law, ordinance, or regulation. This is a similar concept that refers to the apparently authorized status of the action, as distinguished from the unauthorized status of their actions, which ultra vires refers to.
The following is an example of a state statute dealing with the concept of ultra vires:
A corporation's power to act may be challenged: