A cunning plan…

By Legal Eagle

I’m not a fan of the reality TV genre. It’s lazy television. It makes me want to come out in hives half the time. How can people embarrass themselves like that?

It looks like reality TV might be going the way of the dodo in France. A French court has ruled that being a reality TV contestant is a job which should have all the conditions which come with employment:

The case was brought by Anthony Brocheton, Marie Adamiak and Arno Laize, who said that their participation in l’Ile de la Tentation amounted to a job in terms of French labour laws, which stipulate that no one can be made to work more than 35 hours a week.

The program involves scantily clad men and women testing the faithfulness of competing couples with massages, dances and beach walks on an island off Tulum on the Mexican coast.

Giving judgment, la Cour de Cassation, France’s highest court, said: “Temptation Island constitutes a job and therefore justifies an employment contract.”

It backed a decision by a lower tribunal to award the three contestants €8,176 each in overtime, on the grounds that they had worked for 24 hours a day.

Glem, the French group that makes Temptation Island for the private TF1 channel, was also ordered to pay the contestants €817 for not being given a holiday, €500 for unfair dismissal and €1,500 for the wrongful termination of their contracts. Lawyers said Glem is likely to be ordered to pay the claimants’ legal fees as well.

The supreme court upheld the lower tribunal judgment, which said: “Tempting a person of the opposite sex requires concentration and attention.”

(I think the last line is my absolute favourite. Seduction as a vocation profession.)

Various former contestants of l’Ile de la Tentation and other reality TV contestants are set to sue for back pay and other employment benefits. It looks like it’s the death knell for cheap and lazy TV in France now that they actually have to pay the contestants.

So, to improve Australian TV, my cunning plan is to become a reality TV contestant, and then try to establish that I am entitled to an employment contract. Hey, I’ll make money and do a service for the Australian television watching public. The only question is which TV show would have me. I’m not sure that the kind of things which interest me are the kind of things which appeal to the general public. Anyone else fascinated by corrective justice and private law? Anyone? Anyone?!? It’s a sad life when you’re a nerd…

Update:

In comments below, I made the tongue in cheek suggestion that there could be a show named “Solicitation Island“. A German friend tells me there already has been a show like this in Germany. They had a hugely successful series featuring made-up court cases, where the accused was an actor, and was put through ‘normal’ court proceedings, involving actual solicitors, barristers and judges.

I think this would be a great idea to enable people to understand the fundamentals of legal procedure better. Although I usually don’t like reality TV, I hate legal TV dramas, and think it would be really good to show people what court is really like.

18 Comments

  1. Matt
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I am pretty sure that most reality TV contestants in Australia are paid at least the minimum industry rate at present, for the very reasons you mention.

  2. Posted June 4, 2009 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    I think the last line is my absolute favourite. Seduction as a vocation.

    That should be profession, surely?

  3. Posted June 4, 2009 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Corrective justice? I don’t know, would this include being able to sue law firms once you’ve left because you signed a contract for a 45 hour week (as with my first) but on arrival they made clear you were expected to be there at least 55?

    I’m for that. Of all professions you’d think would not be comfortable with perpetrating civil fraud…

    As for the French; I’m almost a socialist at times, but these people are lunatics. Thankfully that’s why we love them so. Who else would take the time to prepare for the world the wonder that is a Chateau Le Pin?

    Postcript- I believe it is a defence to murder charges for a mistress to have found her husband in bed with his wife…

  4. Posted June 4, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    DEM – oops – yeah. *blushes, hangs head in shame* Vocation can simply mean job, but it has other connotations which I didn’t intend.

    Actually I wasn’t taking issue with the religious implications of the term ‘vocation’, just making a joke that seduction has been considered a profession for a very long time (the oldest in the world so they say).

  5. Posted June 5, 2009 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    You DID sign up for solicitation, though. I know that was part of the appeal for me, along with fine oratory and firm units.

    My disappointment was devastating. Without the intellectual fascination of topics like restitution I don’t know how I would have made it through!

  6. Posted June 5, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Of course, if it were ever shown in the US it would be an entirely different show, given the meaning of soliciting there. Much more interesting for non-legal types. 🙂

  7. Posted June 5, 2009 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] said “Solicitors who solicit and solicit. It could be a hit.”

    OK, so any of the wordsmiths in the (author|reader)ship care to put something down to a Gilbert and Sullivan, say “Modern Major General”, or perhaps for a kimono-ed trio… although “A policeman’s lot” might have to come in somewhere along the way.

  8. Posted June 5, 2009 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    And to LE’s last bit of the main article:

    The only question is which TV show would have me. … Anyone?!? It’s a sad life when you’re a nerd…

    Maybe a legal version of “Rough Science”, where a group (one chemistry lecturer, a botanist, a mathematician, a physics lecturer etc) would be stranded on a desert island, told to make a sunblocker, make an underwater lamp with a candle… (no – non-competitive, if one team finished early, they’d go and help the other team do whatever the other job was).

    But what sort of problems would you give to a group of lawyers “stranded” from their tools of trade?

  9. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm. In my book it’s the french labour laws that ought to go the way of the dodo. They seem far more offensive than reality TV. At least with reality TV you can turn it off if you don’t like it.

  10. Posted June 7, 2009 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    So, to improve Australian TV, my cunning plan is to become a reality TV contestant, and then try to establish that I am entitled to an employment contract. Hey, I’ll make money and do a service for the Australian television watching public.
    .
    It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it. 🙂 If you succeed a huge monument to your greatness will be erected I promise.

  11. Lang Mack
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I think this would be a great idea to enable people to understand the fundamentals of legal procedure better.
    And why it costs more than standard for postage and telephone rates to relay information,the information not applying to the cost of transfer?..

  12. Patrick
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    I love spam..

    Seriously if completely off topic, check out Roberts CJ’s dissent in this case on judicial recusal (p25). Scalia’s brief concurring dissent is pretty good, but Robert’s is an absolutely whacking judgement. Builds momentum a little bit, so bear with it.

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