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Ski hosting court appeal deferred again
Tuesday May 13, 2014 - Email this article to a friend

The Courts of Appeals in Chambery has postponed an appeal by the British tour operator, Le Ski, after the ESF asked for more time to prepare its case. It was due to have taken place on Wednesday.

In February 2013 Le Ski was found guilty of using its staff to take people round the slopes without the correct qualifications under French law.

It meant a complete end to the traditional ski hosting service that was offered by many British tour operators in France.

On Wednesday an appeal was due to be heard. It had already been delayed from last November.

Le Ski submitted a detailed written defence which it claimed showed that French regulations banning ski hosting are discriminatory.  It maintained that all French civil servants and teachers established in France are exempt from any qualification requirement.

"The applicable section of French law is therefore unjustifiable under EU law," Le Ski said in a statement released to the media.

The ESF has requested from the court more time to consider the legal arguments and extensive European Court case-law on which the British defence is based.

"Given the serious implications of the outcome of this case, and in the interest of a thorough legal debate, we have agreed to a deferral," added the statement from Le Ski.

The new date for the case will be July 2nd.

The ski hosts showed clients round the slopes, but did not go on difficult runs or venture off piste. 

They did not teach, but rather showed guests the best slopes and best restaurants.

The case caused a storm of protest in the UK, as we reported at the time on PlanetSKI - see here for that story that goes into all the background and the issues raised.

Le Ski is being supported by other British operators that include Alpine Elements, Crystal Ski, Esprit Ski, Inghams, Mark Warner, Neilson, Ski Olympic, Ski Total, Skiworld and Thomson.

The appeal was to have been heard last November but it was postponed at the joint request of the Ecole du Ski Français (ESF) and Le Ski.

Both parties concurred at the time that the European legal issues raised by the case are complex and required careful examination. 

It seems more time is still needed.

It could go to a higher court in France or be referred to Brussels where there will be a debate over whether European Law over-rules the current interpretation of French law.

The case is one of three, involving the British, that is going through the French courts at the moment.

A British ski instructor, Simon Butler, was in court last month accused of teaching with the correct qualifications and using other British instructors not qualified to the correct standard; we reported on that case here. 

A judgement is awaited and will be given next month. He faces a prison term of 8-months and a €10,000 fine.

Also the Ski Club of Great Britain has been summoned to appear in September after one of its leaders was stopped and questioned in Val d'Isere while taking club members around the slopes; see here for that earlier PlanetSKI story.

The cases are all slightly different but some argue there is a concerted move by the French authorities to clamp down on British operations in France. 

The French say they are simply following the law of their land and the courts will decide who is right and who is wrong.

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