British ski instructor wins multi-year fight to teach in France

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A French court has ruled that a British ski instructor has the right to teach in France, ending a long legal struggle that went to the heart of European labor laws.

Simon Butler, 57, was fined 42,000 euros ($ 45,500) in 2013 and 2014 for repeatedly withdrawing customers from his ski school in the high-end resort of the Alps of Megève, despite the absence of French certification.

Local instructors who joined the case as complainants accused him of unfair competition, implying that it was easier to obtain a license from the British Association of Snowsport Instructors than to meet French requirements .

Butler appealed the fines, which also included a suspended prison sentence, arguing that under EU law, his British ski license allowed him to operate across the block.

The dispute took on a political dimension when Butler appeared for a hearing in 2014 accompanied by a UKIP spokesperson, who denounced “a blatant manifestation of national discrimination by the French government”.

In 2016, Butler filed a counterclaim against the Ministry of Sports with the administrative court in Lyon, in the south-east of France. Although he won the case, a criminal court of Chambéry confirmed the initial fines.

This sparked new legal skirmishes until a decision last week by a Lyon court of appeal that dismissed the criminal case, according to two decrees obtained Monday by the AFP news agency.

Butler’s lawyer Philippe Planes added that Butler’s new freedom to teach in the school he runs would not be affected by Brexit.

“This will not change anything for the British already settled here, their rights are guaranteed,” he said.

“For others in the future, it will depend on the negotiations under way” on Britain’s future relations with the EU, he said.

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