Ski Instructor Vows to Fight On

In a statement issued yesterday Simon Butler, the ski instructor convicted at Bonneville Criminal Court on Thursday vowed to fight on “to the European Court in Brussels”, if necessary.

Mr Butler has been providing ski holidays with what he claims is [I]"free tuition"[/I] in the exclusive ski resort of Megève for over 20 years and gives a return rate of 92%. Loyal customers rallied around Mr Butler and his colleague Mr Barrett-Boyce over the weekend praising their style of instruction and saying that their chalets were packed out with satisfied clients voting with their feet. Their clients have also started a petition stating they’d never use the local French ski school. Mr Barrett-Boyce made the point that ski instruction was free in the court hearing earlier in the month.

Mr Butler hinted that the action was started through rivalry with the local state owned Ecole du Ski Français who feared Simon Butler Skiing was poaching their clients.

Mr Butler also claims he is being discriminated against. Normally as a Basi grade 1 instructor qualified in 1985 he would have benefited from automatic equivalence with the French system.  However he alleges that he has been denied this as he employs BASI grade 3 and 2 instructors (current Basi Trainee and National Ski Instructor grades). Mr Butler claims that the ESF is able to employ trainees for up to four years, which gives them ample time to train on snow for their diploma while he is denied the same opportunity with trainees in the British instructor system.  Under French law a ski school registered as a training centre (Centre de Formation à la pratique du ski) can employ trainee instructors (stagiaires) such as Basi National Ski Instructors (Basi 2).  There is a strict time limit to pass the Eurotest, a timed giant slalom.

In the case of the Ministere Public versus Club Med[1] the French Supreme Court upheld a conviction made by the Grenoble Criminal Court of appeal.  Club Med were employing ski instructors who did not possess the appropriate French qualifications and failed to make the correct declarations with the French authorities.  One of the planks of Club Med’s defense was that the ski instruction was part of the holiday package. The court found against the ski instructors and also against the managers of Club Med who were putting them into an illegal situation. The court went on that even if all the conditions for obtaining the appropriate qualifications had been met an offence was committed as the declarations hadn’t been made. The declaration is crucial as it enables the authorities to control safety and public liability insurance.

The appeal will be held in Chambéry court (chambre correctionnelle de la cour d’appel de Chambéry), probably sometime in the autumn.  The sentence is suspended until the appeal. The maximum sentence for the offence is 15,000 € fine and 1 year in prison.

[1]Cour de Cassation, Chambre criminelle, 7 October 1998, No de pourvoi: 97-85336

Posted by davidof on Monday, 29 March, 2004 at 06:02 PM

As a client of Simon Butler I can confirm that i am a returning guest of his and i know that ALL of the people that were with Simon Butler Holidays in Megeve during the Easter week were also returning guests.
None of us were paying extra for tuition.
None of us were forced to be taught by Simon Butler or his staff.
None of us wanted to be taught by ESF.
ALL of us had a great holiday and fantastic tuition with his staff.
All of us were going to return with Simon Butler Holidays next season.
There were about 100 guests that week.
There is nothing mentioned about the rude and arrogant attitude of the majority of the ESF instructors who seem to beleive that they OWN the slopes.
We pay our lift pass so we are entitled to ski with who we want to.
As we did not pay for the instruction, how can Simon Butler be in the wrong?

Posted by  on  Thursday, 15 April, 2004  at 01:40 PM
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