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British Expat Newsletter:
2 March 2005

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Bizarre laws
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Sponsor
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Joke and quotation

This week

Ever feel as if the law is an ass?

I’m not talking about the sort of ridiculous laws you hear about every so often in the “Bizarre but True” type of feature in newspapers or magazines. Mind you, some of those can be quite funny. Things like freemen of the City of Chester being allowed to shoot Welshmen with bows and arrows across the River Dee, or men not being allowed to stand up while using the toilet after 10pm in Switzerland. (The second of these is true – I have my doubts about the first.)

No, I’m talking about laws concerning everyday matters which affect large numbers of people. The kind of thing which might crop up to cause you problems.

Take housing and tenancy, for instance – an issue which most expats are likely to have to deal with at some stage in their time overseas, whether as a tenant in their new country, or as a landlord in the UK. Many expats let their UK homes while overseas, with the understanding that their homes will revert to them when they return. But we’ve heard that some councils are telling council housing applicants that they won’t qualify unless they make their present landlord drag them through the whole eviction process – even where there are no grounds for contesting a possession order.

This is shocking, if true. The process is demeaning to the tenant, a nuisance and a worry for the landlord, an extra burden on the already overburdened courts, and an extra expense which ultimately the landlord, the tenant, or the council will be saddled with. I can’t see that anyone benefits – except the lawyers, of course.

Here in South East Asia we’ve had very few problems so far. That said, we’re not out to cause a public nuisance – we’re guests in this country and behave ourselves as such, and the authorities seem happy enough to let us be. We’ve been good tenants; we’ve paid our rent promptly and let the landlords know whenever there’s something that needs fixing. On their side, they’re quick to fix things, deliver water and gas and all that too. And they seem pretty relaxed about the whole legal side of things; it took a good three months (and a couple of reminders from us) before they asked us to sign a contract. Maybe Thai law doesn’t give sitting tenants the sweeping safeguards that English law does. (Scots law is more balanced.)

On the other hand, there are some weird legal things which get in the way from time to time. One afternoon shortly before Christmas, Dave was in Carrefour doing a bit of grocery shopping and thought it’d be nice to have a bottle of fizz as a treat. However, when he got to the counter he found the law had been changed so that shops were no longer allowed to sell alcohol between 1400 and 1700. Pretty bizarre, and we can’t work out why that should be. It can’t be to protect impressionable schoolkids from the sight of grown-ups buying alcohol – after all, the bars are still open during those hours. So people can’t buy alcohol to consume in private and out of sight of the kids – but they can buy it freely in a public bar where anyone can see them. All our pals (expats and Thais) are equally bemused.

But at least we’ve not come a cropper over the Thai law forbidding you to leave your home if you’re not wearing underwear…

Ever fallen foul of a bizarre law – in the UK or elsewhere? Why not visit the forum and let us know?

Virtual Snacks

Just a couple of suggestions if you have a little time to spare:

Possibly the best collection online of silly laws is at The Dumb Network. Obviously a strong US bias (and, let’s face it, there are plenty of different jurisdictions there, so plenty of material available), but enough from around the world to keep everyone happy. Mind you, judging from some of the UK ones they cite, I have to wonder how genuine some of these are!
http://www.dumblaws.com/

And if you’re fed up with paying heavy solicitor’s bills, here’s something to help get your own back. OK, so it won’t bring your bills down, but at least you’ll feel better for having had a laugh at their expense. Some interesting stuff about the ins and outs of practising law too:
http://www.legalhumour.com/

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • picture of a house (3)
  • what is london s currency (2)
  • scream magazine in british (2)
  • god damn them all to hell! (1)
  • english prison restaurant istanbul turkey (1)
  • robert the bruce art lessons (1)
  • where are the most british expats in thailand (1)
  • recipes scallopped potatoes crowd (1)
  • the kind of flags of british (1)
  • sarcastic car (1)
  • bonk girl (1)
  • where is side in turkey (1)

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

Kay
Editor
British Expat Magazine

Quotation

“Anybody who thinks talk is cheap should get some legal advice.”

– Franklin P. Jones (US businessman, 1887-1929)

Joke

One day a tourist wandered into a curio shop in Hong Kong. Way in the back, amidst the clutter, he found a brass statuette of a rat. It was beautifully crafted, and the man decided he rather liked it.

“How much?” he asked the elderly Chinese shopkeeper.

“Five dollar,” the shopkeeper replied. “Hundred dollar with story.”

Five dollars seemed like a good price, and the tourist decided that he could live without knowing the story of the brass rat. So he bought it.

As he wandered on through the streets of Hong Kong, however, the man noticed with surprise that he was not alone. Rats were emerging from buildings, the sewers, everywhere, in ever increasing numbers, and following him.

Before long there were so many that he became genuinely frightened. Finding himself at the water’s edge, the now terrified man hurled the brass rat into the bay. He heaved a sigh of relief as the thousands of rats hurled themselves into the bay after it and promptly began to drown.

Shaken, the man made his way back to the curio shop. The old Chinese shopkeeper looked amused. “You come back for story?” he asked.

The tourist shook his head. “No,” he said. “I just wanted to know if you had a brass lawyer.”

PG Author: Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

1 Comment

Kay McMahon 16-04-2010, 14:10

Just as an update to the content in this newsletter article, we did indeed get shafted by bizarre laws on the landlord/tenant issue.

You can read the whole story on our website Trashed House.
http://www.trashedhouse.com

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