Le Ski blames Brexit for end of ski hosting
Ski hosting — or guiding — by British tour operators will not resume in France, following a ruling by the Supreme Court in Paris this week.
Le Ski has said today it is “extremely disappointed” that this is the “end of the road” for its legal challenge against the French justice system after it was fined in 2014 for guiding its guests around ski resorts. Ski hosting used to be commonplace in France among British tour operators, and was seen for years as a valuable part of the holiday for many British skiers. It appealed to many — not only those visiting unfamiliar resorts, but also those skiing solo, who can find ready-made ski buddies by joining a guided group.
But on Tuesday the Supreme Court in Paris rejected pleas presented by Le Ski (a host of other British tour operators* ) based on EU law.
“The Supreme Court was asked by our lawyers to send the case to European Court, from where we would normally be able to appeal to the European Commission, but following Brexit, if we were now to approach EC and ask for help, I think we know what their answer would be,” Le Ski managing director Nick Morgan told Where to Ski and Snowboard today.
The Supreme Court instead sent the case back to the Chambéry court of appeals for the original fine set by the court in Albertville court to be reassessed.
Mr Morgan explained: “The initial fine we were given was a global fine – they locked everything together. One of the laws under which we were prosecuted has changed – it’s no longer an offence – which means the fine will be reassessed.”
In a statement released by Crystal Ski Holidays on behalf of all the tour operators backing Mr Morgan and Le Ski, the tour operators said collectively: “We are extremely disappointed that the French Supreme Court rejected our pleas based on EU law, as, in our view, it is unjustifiable on safety grounds that only fully qualified ski instructors may show clients a winter resort. In particular it is disturbing that no relevance was given to the fact that French civil servants, teachers, members of the armed forces and all volunteers are exonerated from any qualification requirement to lead on ski slopes. It is also disturbing that no relevance was given to the fact that British tour operators’ ski hosting over the past decades has never been proven to have caused an accident or other proven risk to skiers’ safety.
Mr Morgan said the case has come to a halt because of the decision for Britain to leave the European Union made 23 June 2016. He thanked all the tour operators and members of the skiing public for their support and told Where to Ski and Snowboard that the method of “guiding guests without the skiing” employed in recent years will continue.
“We’ve been meeting guests in the morning in local bars, suggesting where we think the best snow will be and where we’d go for lunch — and then meeting them for lunch,” he said. “There’s nothing else we can do.”
Mr Morgan added: “The message has been very clear from our guests – they don’t want ski instructors, they never wanted them and if they did they would go and have a lesson. Our holidays have always been about being in a chalet all together for dinner and then going skiing with the same people the next day looking for the best hot chocolate on the mountain. That is all.”
*Le Ski has been supported in this legal action by Alpine Elements, Crystal Ski, Inghams, Mark Warner, Neilson, Ski Esprit, Ski Olympic, Ski Total, Skiworld and Thomson.