Inspire Art (Case C-167/01; 30 September 2003)
A Dutchman established the company Inspire Art Ltd under the laws of England and Wales and requested the registration of the company’s Dutch branch office at the commercial registry in the Netherlands. The registry took the position that specific Dutch rules for foreign entities registered in the Netherlands were to apply to the company. As a consequence, Inspire Art Ltd would have been required, inter alia, to use a company name indicating its foreign origin, and comply with the minimum capitalisation rules for Dutch limited liability companies.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) continued its tendency of deciding in favour of freedom of establishment by holding that rules submitting pseudo-foreign companies to the company law of the host state were inadmissible. It laid down that a foreign company is not only to be respected as a legal entity having the right to be a party to legal proceedings, but rather has to be respected as such, that is, as a foreign company that is subject to the company law of its state of incorporation. Any adjustment to the company law of the host state is, hence, not compatible with European law.