The Ski Club of Great Britain have lost an appeal over a French court’s ruling against a member arrested while ‘leading’ a ski group in Val d’Isere.
Ken Piddlesden was stopped on the piste by gendarmerie in April 2014 and charged with guiding without the proper qualifications. The Ski Club argue that because their leaders are unpaid volunteers, the French law in question doesn’t apply. The law states it is a legal requirement to have instructor qualifications “if remuneration is received”.
Ski Club Chief Executive Frank McCusker said: “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.”
Mr Piddlesden was fined €10,000 in the earlier court ruling in Albertville. At the unsuccessful appeal hearing in Chambery last week, the court also awarded a further €800 of damages in favour of each of the Ecole de Ski Français (ESF) associations that are supporting the prosecution against Mr Piddlesden.
The Ski Club withdrew its leading service in France after the arrest, and instead now offers members a subsidised instructor-led guiding service with another French ski school, Evolution 2.
But the Club continues to insist that as its leaders are non-remunerated volunteers, the French courts’ actions are “misguided and inappropriate”. They say the leading service helps members to get the most out of their holiday while skiing with someone familiar with the area. The argument on the French side is that only fully qualified instructors can safely lead holidaymakers round the mountain, and non-qualified leaders could pose a danger to the group.
Another similar case is also going through the French courts, led by a group of UK tour operators headed by Le Ski. They are also going to France’s supreme court in Paris after an initial appeal in Chambery was rejected.