Pattaya City Expats Club: Staying Safe Legally in Thailand in 2023

Long-time resident and former Honorary British Consul in Pattaya, Barry Kenyon provides a very informative talk on Thai laws and court system and how to stay safe legally.

The guest speaker for the Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC) at their Wednesday, January 4, meeting was Barry Kenyon who offered some wise advice on how to stay out of legal trouble while living in Thailand. His talk covered reasons why foreigners are typically arrested in Pattaya and what happens to them as well as areas foreigners get involved in civil cases such as disputed wills or seeking compensation.

He also pointed out some key differences between Thai and Western courts and offered some advice to follow if you by chance are arrested. Barry also covered what made several elderly Pattaya Bridge Club players get their 15 minutes of fame in 2016 when 30 members of the Pattaya Bridge Club were arrested for alleged gambling including himself.

Barry is imminently qualified to offer general advice on how to stay safe legally in Thailand. He has lived mostly in Pattaya for the past 30 years. During this period, he has worked in various capacities for the British Embassy, including being the Honorary British Consul in Pattaya and a volunteer assisting Expats at Pattaya’s Immigration Office.

He has had a varied past career as a Latin teacher, a police officer, and a college executive. He is now largely retired but is a part time advisor for a large international law company based next to Jomtien immigration. He also writes for the internet and Pattaya Mail mostly on tourist and immigration subjects.

MC Ren Lexander presents the PCEC’s Certificate of Appreciation to Barry Kenyon for his enlightening talk about the Thai legal system and what to expect if arrested or involved in civil litigation.

Alcohol is usually involved for most foreigners that get arrested whether it be driving or belligerence leading to more serious offenses such as assault or other violent acts. Barry noted that in cases of assault, there must be medical evidence to support the allegation. Another area where many foreigners may be arrested is for committing drug offenses.

Foreigners violating Immigration law by overstaying their permitted time in Thailand is another leading cause for their being arrested. Barry noted that overstay offenses are now more easily detected through use of better technology. Barry also described several issues involving working illegally in Thailand.

Barry also explained the differences between Thai court procedures and that of Western countries. One being there are no jury trials in Thailand eliminating the adversarial aspects during court proceedings. The case is heard by Thai judges and a case may drag on for a lengthy period as the trial may involve several sessions with months between them thus dragging on for years. Some other differences is there is no transcript of the testimony and legal precedence does not play as important a part with judges having wide latitude on judging a case as well as in imposing sentences.

MC Ren Lexander interviews Barry Kenyon about his presentation on how to stay safe legally in Thailand. To view the video, visit the PCEC’s YouTube channel at:

He also highlighted some areas of civil law such as disputed wills and divorces along with the method used to collect damages if one wins a judgement. He also offered advice on how to act if you are arrested, the first being to remain calm. He mentioned that while being processed and before being placed in a cell, you will likely still be in possession of your mobile phone; use it. Call your friends to let them know where you are and what is happening. He did mention that having a good attorney to call can be beneficial, but then defined a good attorney is one that doesn’t turn their phone off when they go to bed.

Barry also emphasized that you should not sign any documents which will be in Thai and most likely an admission of guilt. As part of his presentation, Barry mentioned several aspects of the infamous Bridge Club raid of 2016 in which he and 29 other elderly participants were arrested and that it took over 3 years to finally resolve the case. Although the gambling charge was eventually dropped, there were in fact some violation of other Thai laws including a very old one adopted during the Japanese occupation of Thailand during WW2.

MC Ren Lexander than mentioned some upcoming events before calling on George Wilson to conduct the Open Forum portion of the meeting where the audience comment and ask questions about Expat living in Thailand. To view Barry’s presentation, visit the PCEC’s YouTube Channel at: To learn more about the PCEC, visit their website at: