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

Having worked for Ski Barrett Boyce, I’m quite interested in the comments here!

Yes, they run an illegal bar. They buy alcohol and sell it over the counter to customers.

They may have been treated unfairly at the hands of the French legal system, but unfortunately there comes a point when you have to accept that a more powerful authority is out to get you and do what you can to minimise damage to yourself. I worked for SkiBB when it was all going on and they refused to do this, and as such got themselves into a huge financial hole which has had a serious impact on the standard of accommodation they provide. I understand their position but they made it a lot worse for themselves. This year, there was no masseuse (despite one being advertised), absolutely horrendous food (clearly bought from the bargain bin) and not enought towels for the guests! Dreadful, it’s a shame it came to this as it was a nice, family run hotel which had a lot of charm but unfortunately it’s now time for them to pack up and go home. 

Posted by  on  Tuesday, 27 June, 2006  at 02:07 AM
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