Anorak News | Can you pay your bill with pennies?

Can you pay your bill with pennies?

by | 16th, May 2012

YOU cannot pay your bills with pennies. Well, actually you can, but you can’t insist on doing so. The original story in the Mail:

A disgruntled client who paid a bill with £800 of loose change after a row with his accountant has been ordered to pay his debt ‘properly’ by a court judge.

And then the cock up The Guardian made of it:

A care home manager has been fined £1,118.62 after he settled an £804 debt to his accountant with five crates of mostly 1p and 2p coins. He had been to the bank especially, he said: be glad that you weren’t behind him in the queue. So what did Robert Fitzpatrick, the care home manager, do wrong?

He didn’t do anything wrong and he’s not been fined.

The point is about legal tender: small coins are only legal tender up to certain amouts: 20 p for 1 p coins for example. But what the Guardian has got wrong, having got that part right, is that you do not have to pay your bills in legal tender. That’s why the bloke hasn’t been fined.

You can try to pay your bills in absolutely anything you damn well like: take this nice painting as settlement? Lovely puppy I’ve got here? Case of wine? If the other bloke accepts then your debt is paid. If he doesn’t then it ain’t.

The point about legal tender is that if you pay it in legal tender they must accept it. If they refuse legal tender then your debt is still paid even though you’ve not actually paid anything at all.

So, what’s actually happened is that the client offered to pay in not legal tender. The accountant refused. And the judge has said that the client will have to try paying the debt again and added a few court costs on top for his troubles.

Oh, and the client gets his £800 in pennies back as well.


Posted: 16th, May 2012 | In: Money Comment | TrackBack | Permalink