Spending a penny may not pay your debts

Some legal tender, yesterday

Bugger. If there's one thing Bitterwallet has excelled at, it's petty-mindedness. If you've ever wanted to take revenge on your bank for treating you like a teenager's special sock, or stick it to The Man, we've backed you all the way. For example, Andy has long been a fan of wasting the time of financial institutions and yesterday we brought you news of US police officers forcing a towing company to accept a fine in pennies.

Seems you won't get away with such churlish behavior in Blighty. Bitterwallet reader fu manchu pointed us in the direction of the Royal Mint, which states the term legal tender doesn't simply describe what physical currency we can use, but also how we use it:

Coins are legal tender throughout the United Kingdom for the following amount [of payment]:

  • £5 - for any amount
  • £2 - for any amount
  • £1 - for any amount
  • 50p - for any amount not exceeding £10
  • 25p (Crown) - for any amount not exceeding £10
  • 20p - for any amount not exceeding £10
  • 10p - for any amount not exceeding £5
  • 5p - for any amount not exceeding £5
  • 2p - for any amount not exceeding 20p
  • 1p - for any amount not exceeding 20p

This applies to debt settlement (such as the towing incident) rather than regular transactions, which can be settled any way so long as both parties agree. It puts an end to some whimsical notions of playing silly twats, though. Balls.


  • MrRobin
    Right. Thanks for that! I'll make sure I don't carry around more than 40 25 pence pieces at any one time...
  • Paul S.
    Please don't, MrRobin - we wouldn't want you breaking the law. 25p (Crown) - what is that, then?
  • Andre
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/03/British_coin_25p_%281981%29.jpg 25p Crowns are collectable coins
  • Junkyard
    Does that mean if I want to buy something costing 21p, there's no legal way to do so?
  • Jase
    ...not if you want to do it with one type of coin.
  • fu m.
    hah, thanks for the namecheck bitterwallet! as to MrRobin & Junkyard, you're understanding this wrong. Those limits are what legally cannot be *refused* to pay for a debt. A debt would be where you owe money (perhaps an overdraft or your tax bill) a purchase is not the same. a seller can insist on anything he likes.... us dollars, cats, old newspapers, whatever and agree to accept anything he likes as payment. even for a debt i could agree you could pay in 1p coins. the law just states what i cant *refuse*
  • Tom P.
    Here's a twat paying his £25 parking fine with a bag of 1p's http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/1118515_council_refuses_parking_fine_pennies
  • fu m.
    they should have tasered him
  • Chris
    Ah so we can now refuse those idiots that come into our store and offload the entire contents of their wallet to us? great!
  • Mike
    @Chris Like fu manchu said, as a shop owner you can refuse to sell anything to anyone.
  • Tom P.
    "Like fu manchu said, as a shop owner you can refuse to sell anything to anyone." Yeah, i love telling the tramps to piss off when they come in with their 1p's and 2p's asking to buy a Skol Super 9% @ £1
  • Steve
    Can you stack these? So could I pay £40.40 so long as I didn't breach the limits for each coin?
  • nerd.
    Your list (specifically the £5 part) isn't correct for the whole UK.
    In England and Wales the £5, £10, £20 and £50 [Bank of England] notes are legal tender for payment of any amount. However, they are not legal tender in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • Me
    At least you can fulfil the list before resorting to notes. It'll keep em busy for a while!

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