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Ski Club GB loses appeal
Thursday May 5, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

A French court has upheld an earlier judgement that the Club's leading service in France is illegal. The Club will now take its case to a higher court in Paris and will lodge a complaint to the European Commission.

Three French judges heard the case in a court in Chambery in the French Alps last March. 

They have now released their written judgement on the case.

We reported on the hearing at the time here on PlanetSKI.

"This is the outcome we expected but we still believe it to be misguided and inappropriate. We will continue our fight and we will be launching a further appeal in the French Criminal Supreme Court in Paris," said Ski Club Chief Executive, Frank McCusker.

In due course the legal team representing the Ski Club will also be lodging an official complaint with the European Commission. 

A request to the appeal court in Chambéry to refer the case to the European Court of Justice was refused.

The case involved a re-hearing of the arguments put forward in the lower court in Albertville in December 2014.

The Albertville court ruled that one of the Club's leaders, Ken Piddlesden, should not have been leading groups around the mountains as he was not a qualified ski instructor.

The French authorites believe he was in contravention to Art.L.212-1 of the French Code du Sport.

He was apprehended on the slopes of Val d'Isere in April 2014; we reported on the incident at the time.

The Club argued that he did not have to be qualified as he only took members of the Club out on the slopes and was not paid to do so.

He received expenses, but no direct financial remuneration. 

Criminal and civil court cases were brought against Mr Piddlesden as an individual. 

He was fined €10,000 with a further suspended fine of €5,000. 

In the civil action he was ordered to pay symbolic damages of €1 to ESF Val d'Isere. 

A further €800 of damages has been awarded in favour of each of the Ecole de Ski Français (ESF) associations involved. The legal reasoning behind this decision will be given in the written judgement to follow.

The Club, which was forced to stop all its leading across France with immediate effect, has said it will meet any fine against Mr Piddlesden.

It is also paying all his legal fees.

Ski Club of Great BritainSki Club of Great Britain













Last season the Ski Club was operating a new service in France for members, using qualified instructors from the ski school EV2.

It ran in Alpe d'Huez, Argentière, Avoriaz, Courchevel, Flaine, La Plagne, Méribel, Les Arcs, Tignes, Val d'Isère and Val Thorens.

The Ski Club Leader programme in other countries is not affected by the case.

Some argue that the Ski Club should seek to qualify its Leaders so they can lead groups in France and comply with the existing interpretation of French law.

Contrary to popular belief people do not have to be a top level instructor (BASI Level 4) to teach/lead in France, but can do so with a Level 2 qualification as long as they do it for a limited period of time and do not seek out extra business.

In effect they work as a visiting instructor with their own existing clients.

They can not lead groups off piste though and there may be some travel restrictions.

See here for an earlier PlanetSKI story with all the background to the issues.

The case now goes on to the Supreme Court in Paris. 

Ski Club leaders in trainingSki Club leaders in training
















It is just one of a number of cases currently going through the French courts.

The British tour operator, Le Ski, is appealing against a decision that outlaws their ski hosting programmes. 

The company is being supported by other UK tour operators in its legal battle.

"The French case against the Ski Club is following our legal journey, but we have been waiting for our appeal in Paris for two years and there is no sign of it happening any time soon. The authorities know we will appeal to the EU afterwards and they are in no rush, " said Nick Morgan, the co-founder of Le Ski, to PlanetSKI.

The British ski instructor, Simon Butler, is contesting a French court's decision that he was teaching illegally. That too is at the appeal stage.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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