The application of laws from different countries both abroad and in Australia

We all recall the recent sight of the “Budgie Nine” as they have come to be known at the Malaysian Grand Prix earlier this month.  Their prank of stripping down to their Malaysian-flag clad swimwear whilst drinking from their shoes, apparently a celebration commonly seen in motorsports, will no doubt have gained them some unwanted notoriety.

Malaysian authorities had hoped to charge the “Budgie Nine” with the charge of “intentional insult with the intent to provoke a breach of the peace”, which charge could have seen the Aussie larrikins facing a penalty of up to two years in gaol.

Luckily for the “Budgie Nine” they were released and allowed to return home after only four nights in custody in Malaysia, but the outcome of what is now largely considered an unsavoury prank by former private schoolboys who should know better, could have been much worse for them.


Just what do we know about the law in other countries that we visit?

No doubt most of us are aware that Australian law only applies here, and that each country that we visit has its own laws that will apply to us if we are there.

There are some incidents in our country’s not so distant past that are extreme instances of the law of another country applying very differently to Australians overseas – the Bali Nine and Schapelle Corby spring almost instantly to mind.  But how do we know what we are getting ourselves into when we are travelling overseas?

The advice of a good travel agent, or a reputable travel book, such as a Lonely Planet guide can be vital when travelling.  The Australian Government’s Smartraveller advisory service (smartraveller.gov.au) can also be invaluable when travelling.


What are some of the laws of other countries that could catch us out?

  • Feeding the pigeons in Venice
  • Photographing government buildings in Botswana
  • Chewing gum in Singapore
  • Bringing alcohol into the Maldives
  • Jaywalking in Russia
  • Gambling in India
  • Holding hands in Dubai
  • Throwing out metro tickets in Paris or Madrid before exiting your final stop
  • Bringing medications containing codeine into Greece
  • Wearing camouflage in Barbados
  • Speaking ill of the monarchy in Thailand

And the list goes on.  It is imperative to know the laws of the country that you are visiting to ensure a safe return to Australian shores.


Did you know the reverse is also true?

Many people migrating to Australia are not aware that arrangements they may have made in their former home country may not be applicable in Australia.

This can include arrangements such as:

  • Wills
  • Powers or Enduring Powers of Attorney
  • Living Wills or Enduring Powers of Guardianship
  • Pre-nuptial agreements (also known as binding financial agreements)

If you or someone you know has recently moved to Australia it is important that they get the right legal advice to ensure that their affairs are properly protected, and that proper arrangements are in place for them.  Give us a call at Lynn & Brown Lawyers and we can help you rest well in the knowledge that you and your loved ones are properly taken care of.




About the author:

This article has been authored by Jacqueline Brown who is a Perth lawyer and director at Lynn & Brown Lawyers.  Jacqui has over 20 years’ experience in legal practice and practices in family law, mediation and estate planning.  Jacqui is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator and a Notary Public.


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