Unfortunately I had to go to war over this issue over the last two weeks. To be fair a godan helped me out initially and even Shihan physically manipulated the situation to where it was supposed to be at one point. I graded on the same day as one Japanese dojo member. On hindsight he has been ensuring that he is sitting ahead of me for quite a while but it started to get very aggressive both in line up and when we were paired. I am sure there is more to this than I figured out but he was getting very rude. Turns out by rights he should have been below me and last class that is where he ended up. Up or down - there is no way he should have been behaving as he was.
The idea of the rules I think is to prevent this sort of posturing from happening - even though it does. I doubt he would have tried it with a Japanese.
We have the opposite type of fight in our dojo, among the Yundasha:
One of us is much older then the rest, and much more veteran. However, his rank is lower then some of us, others - He was a Shodan when I joined the Dojo and remained a Shodan today (about 15 years after) while I and a couple of others have gone from beginner to Nidan in this period. This is partially due to his making a break of a couple of years, being severely sick a few years after and only practicing once a week on most other times.
We (the higher ranked "youngsters") would prefer him to remain sitting on our Shomen side - "higher up" yet he refuses. And we often have funny siting position mini-fights (gentle pushing the other and trying to sit in "proper order").
Aside from that, most people in the Dojo seem to sit themselves according to rank and the order they have arrived. If someone wishes to sit himself "higher up" no-one is going to disturb him while sitting. Though one of us Sempai, or the Sensei, may comment on the proper order of sitting afterwards, to give a hint.