British Ski Instructors Fined

Two British ski instructors have fallen foul of French justice.  Simon Butler and James Barrett-Boyce working for Simon Butler Skiing were both sentenced to a 10,000 € fine and ordered to pay damages to the two civil parties in the case: The Syndicat National des Moniteurs de Ski Français and to the Syndicat Professionnel des Moniteurs de Ski de Megève.

The two men run a chalet in the exclusive ski resort of Megève.  Following a complaint from the local Ecole du Ski Français the Gendarmerie discovered that the two men were offering ski courses to their guests.  When questioned, the men initially tried to bluff it out by pretending not to speak French.

At the hearing earlier in the month the men asked for time to get their certification up to French standards.  Barrett-Boyce also claimed they’d done nothing wrong, “whether you ski with us or not you pay the same price”. Mr Barret-Boyce highlighted that their clients brought money to the resort “they come here for us and would never think of going to the local ski school”.  The French court in Bonneville did not agree.

Today the website of Simon Butler Skiing was still offering holidays and ski tuition.  The law 86-610 of 16th July 1984 states paid ski instruction can only be offered by people possessing the relevant French certification or international equivalent and that anyone practising such activity must register with the local authorities.  The British Association of Snowsport Instructors confirmed to PisteHors that neither of the two men was in possession of their International Ski Teacher Diploma which includes off-piste and mountain safety modules.  The ISTD entitles instructors to work in the European group of ski countries which includes France. The Basi says that they have several hundred members operating legally and successfully in Europe and many of the million plus British winter sports tourists opted for Basi instructors.

With a large influx of British to the Alps and soaring property prices patience with ex-pats contravening local legislation is wearing thin. There has been anger that some chalet owners operate their tax affairs ‘mid-channel’ and that hotels and tour operators employ staff on English contracts avoiding high French taxes.  The court in Bonneville clearly wanted to send a clear message that those businesses which flout the law will not be tolerated.

-- Additional Reporting: Geraldine Gadbin from Bonneville Crown Court.

Posted by davidof on Thursday, 25 March, 2004 at 06:54 PM

Hi, I am glad to finally hear the other side of the story - tell the French press about it then because we are only basing comments on their newspaper article which was on

Also I thought it was legal for BASI level 2 to teach in the same way it is for the French stagiaires and they can teach for 3 years while trying to pass the speed test? Also I had heard that BASI level 3 had to pass a slalom test (not GS) and then could be a stagiaire for up to I think it was 2 years (not sure on that part), and then had to do BASI II and the GS speed test and that this was the same or quite similar to the French system. I certainly hope so as the French company Evolution 2 is using BASI level II and III students right now via this system (or so I was told by someone who works there).

I also fail to see how a speed test assesses an instructors abillity to communicate the basics of skiing to anyone as I stated before. That is just my personal opinion. But if there is a speed test, then there should at least be equality under the law regardless of nationality (if they are an EU member state). It should be interesting to hear the results of the case. I wish the press would report the facts and do a little more investigation about what they report.

Posted by  on  Monday, 29 March, 2004  at 06:33 PM

Thanks for your interesting comments tankgirl.

Our reporting came directly from Bonneville criminal court and was covered by a French/English lawyer who also has an interest in skiing. As both instructors state they have Basi qualifications we also spoke at length to the Basi about this case and the background. What we have so far reported is correct. I can’t comment on reports in French newspapers.

I would point out that it was not the ESF that prosecuted Mr Butler and his colleague but the prosecutor representing the French people. This should be evident, as the case was held in the criminal court at Bonneville not the civil court. The ESF were invited to join as a civil participant, which is usual under French proceedings. A minor point perhaps but worth noting when people would like us to ‘get our facts right!’

We will be giving prominence to Mr Butler’s comments in another article and wish him luck with his appeal.

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 29 March, 2004  at 07:50 PM

I can only endorse tankgirl’s comments - both gigi lerose and kailas show how cretinous the entire protectionist argument is.  I’m sure the ESF were invited to be a civil participant - I bet Evolution 2 weren’t, harking back to the days when Evo 2 had to track the ESF moniteurs taking their classes illegally onto the Tignes glaciers off-piste before Evo 2 were allowed to teach there. 

Clearly punters should be allowed to go skiing with whoever they want - subject only to rules and guidelines about misrepresentation of qualifications - which obviously isn’t the case here.  Good luck to Mr Butler in the Euro courts - I’m sure Private Eye would run a subscription story if that were needed - he’s not going to get any ‘justice’ in a Bonneville courtroom!

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 31 March, 2004  at 01:31 AM

I have just returned from a skiing trip with Simon Butler.
His teaching is magnificent and his staff are too.
We were in a group of 26 who would not, under any circustances, have instruction with the ESF.
On our trip on this, our second visit to Megeve with Simon Butler, we found that the ESF were rude and arrogant to us and even tried to stop us skiing on some slopes that they wanted to keep clear for thier own students.
Being an advanced skier myself 3 of our group were taught by Simon himself and there was one ESF instructor (Julie who is in the World Cup team) who had the upmost respect for Simon and his company and was more than helpful. She helped lay out the slalom course for our downhill race on the Friday and even competed in it.
So i would suggest that if Simon Butler was ‘hounded out’ of Megeve and France, then he would move onto another town and take his 100+ per week clients with him. How this helps the French people i do not know.
With regard to his friend the Australian, I do not see the relevance of it. We were not introduced, nor was he mentioned. He was not in contact with any of Simon Butlers guests.
As far as Mr Barret-Boyce running an illegal bar goes, as i understand it the alcohol consumed was bought by his guests from a local supermarket and put behind the bar in their chalet (wrongly i admit but done in good faith). The alcohol was not ‘sold’ to his guests as it was not his to sell. But by having spirits behind the bar he was in breach. It was not exactly running an illegal bar as such was it?

Simon, I hope that you can continue with your instruction in Megeve and i’ll see you later this year in your new chalet.

Posted by  on  Thursday, 15 April, 2004  at 01:32 PM

In criminal cases the defendant has ten days to appeal from the date the sentence pronounced. We contacted Chambéry criminal court who informed us that no appeal has been filed.

Posted by davidof on  Wednesday, 23 June, 2004  at 12:23 AM
Page 3 of 4 pages « First  <  1 2 3 4 >

Comments are now closed



Archive Summary

Forum Posts

Sunday, 19 May, 2013

Girl survives 4 nights out at 4000m on the Vert

Posted by juice at 11:44 PM
• (3) Posts • (1894) views •

Monday, 29 April, 2013

Colorado's deadliest slide in 50 years

Posted by Simon Scott at 01:41 PM
• (3) Posts • (1583) views •


Thursday, 25 April, 2013

PGHM Officer killed near Ref Argentiere

Posted by juice at 01:38 PM
• (5) Posts • (1646) views •

Friday, 19 April, 2013

avalanche in st christophe

Posted by davidski at 11:32 AM
• (1) Posts • (1401) views •

Monday, 15 April, 2013

Avalanche on the Tete de Chevrette, Vallorcine

Posted by Alan Scowcroft at 04:57 PM
• (1) Posts • (1384) views •

Thursday, 11 April, 2013

Alpine Bindings

Posted by djfrost at 10:08 PM
• (10) Posts • (1527) views •