Unable to pay fine with legal tender

Colin Masson with his letter from the Scottish Court Service regarding the fine he tried to pay with �1 coins at Forfar Sheriff Court.

Colin Masson with his letter from the Scottish Court Service regarding the fine he tried to pay with �1 coins at Forfar Sheriff Court.

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WHEN is legal tender not legal tender? According to one Forfar business-man, it’s when you try to pay a fine at Forfar Sheriff Court.

Colin Masson was left bewildered when he visited the courthouse two weeks ago to pay a parking fine.

The self-employed roofer, patio builder and wheelie bin cleaner was already feeling miffed about receiving a parking ticket in Castle Street when he had parked on a single yellow line whilst briefly visiting a client.

However, he chose to pay up, even agreeing to pay a £15 penalty he accrued after details of his fine were sent to his previous address.

He fitted in a visit to the courthouse during a busy working day, taking with him his £45 fine in pound coins.

He said: “I get paid in coins and didn’t see anything wrong with paying in coins - it is legal tender.

“However, I was told the court wouldn’t accept them and was advised to go to the bank and get notes.

“I could understand there would be a problem if I tried to pay in Euros or American dollars, but this is legal tender!”

Colin handed over £40 in £1 coins, £4 in 50 pence pieces and the remainder in 20 and five pence pieces - but the court was having none of it.

He continued: “I had no notes on me - I get paid in coins. The message they are saying to me is that this is not legal tender. It is absolutely stupid and, on principal, I haven’t paid the fine as I have already made an attempt to pay it.

“I went to the court to pay my fine during my working day. I didn’t have time to go to the bank, change the coins for notes, and then go back. I am annoyed that they wouldn’t accept the coins as there is no reason why they couldn’t accept them. It’s annoying that I went to pay my fine even although I feel I shouldn’t have got a ticket in the first place. I was abiding by the law - it’s absolutely stupid.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Court service responded: “A fine requires to be paid but the Scottish Court Service is not obliged to accept unsorted or unbagged coins in payment. We welcome prompt payment of fines and payments can be made either in person at the office or if that is inconvenient, many fines can be paid by phone or online. The website www.scotcourts.gov.uk/payyourfine/index.asp gives details. All unpaid fines are pursued.”