Ski Club defends leader in France

17th December 2014, by Abi Butcher

The Ski Club is defending its right for leaders to take members around French ski resorts

The Ski Club is defending its right for leaders to take members around French ski resorts

Ski hosting was under the spotlight again last week when The Ski Club of Great Britain appeared in court in France.

In April of this year, Ski Club leader Ken Piddlesden was stopped by gendarmerie on the piste in Val d’Isère, France and questioned about his skills and qualifications to lead a group of skiers around the French resort.

Under French law, only qualified ski instructors are allowed to lead or guide groups around French resorts if they receive remuneration.

The case was heard in Albertville last Monday (8 December) relation to Art.L.212-1 of the French Code du Sport. A senior representative of the Ski Club of GB attended court together with Mr Piddlesden, and their lawyer argued that Ski Club leaders are non-remunerated volunteers, so the gendarmerie’s action is misguided and inappropriate. The outcome is due within the next six to eight weeks.

The case is an interesting one, however, because although Ski Club leaders are volunteers, they receive free travel and accommodation, as well as ski passes in resort. They are neither qualified ski instructors nor mountain guides, but are often asked to take Ski Club members off-piste.

Ski Club Chief Executive Frank McCusker said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome, but added: “We need to manage our expectations and are aware that we are likely to have to take the process to a higher court.”

The Ski Club is using the same lawyer as tour operator Le Ski, which is also embroiled in a legal battle with the French authorities. Le Ski, along with a number of other UK tour operators, are currently taking legal action to the highest court in France, arguing that their staff should be allowed to take British holidaymakers on “social skis” around the resort, since they are just pointing out good routes and restaurants to people unfamiliar to the resort — but not teaching.

A number of tour operators have recently withdrawn ski hosting services in Italy, too, following a crackdown on similar rules there, too.

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