The action was brought after Club leader Ken Piddlesden was stopped on the piste in Val d'Isere, France in April 2014 and questioned by the gendarmerie (military force charged with police duties) in relation to Art.L.212-1 of the French Code du Sport. Under this article it is a legal requirement to have the relevant and appropriate qualification(s) to instruct, lead or guide skiing (groups) if remuneration is received. As Ski Club Leaders are non-remunerated volunteers the club continues to maintain the action is misguided and inappropriate.
The Leader has been given a fine of 10,000 euros, of which 5,000 euros is suspended. ESF have been awarded 1 euro damages, and 350 euros of costs.
An initial hearing originally scheduled for 1st September 2014 was delayed until 8th December to allow the French authorities more time to prepare their case and on Monday 12 January 2015 the Judge ruled in favour of the ESF. There is no custodial sentence for Ken or the Club. This outcome means that the Ski Club will continue its current Ambassador programme in France. We have asked our lawyer to immediately lodge an appeal to the court in Chambery. He will also be lodging an official complaint with the European Commission on our behalf. The Ski Club Leader programme in other countries is not affected by this outcome.
This week the Club confirmed Mayrhofen in Austria had been added to its Leaders programme. From 24th January there will be a Ski Club Leader in Mayrhofen to ski with Ski Club members until 28th March, bringing the number of Leader resorts to 18 and the number of Ambassador resorts in France remains at 11. The Club has also launched it new CatchUp service for members. CatchUp is an online service that helps connect members who want to find a ski or boarding buddy in resort.
Ski Club Chief Executive Frank McCusker comments: "This is the outcome we expected. By adapting our services to members we are able to continue resort operations this season and we look forward to helping people to get the most out of their stay in the French resorts.
Our Ambassadors whilst not able to ski alongside the members can still help them to plan an epic day on the mountains by suggesting routes and organising instructors and guides to optimise their time and experiences on snow.
It is sad that skiing with a Ski Club Leader will not be reinstated in France this season. The service was available for over 50 years and in that time many hundreds of thousands of British Holidaymakers and Club members have used our services and skied with our volunteer reps.
Thankfully the Ski Club's Leader service in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Andorra, Canada and America is unaffected by this outcome and is fully operational. We have also introduced our new CatchUp service that helps members to connect with each other to find a ski, boarding or socialising buddy in resort. We must thank everyone who has helped us to fight for the right to ski together socially. We will be continuing that fight." Frank concluded.