The archaic law that stopped bailiffs from accepting boot full of pennies for debt
Written by The Newsroom on September 3, 2019
A cheeky businessman who hilariously tried to settle a £1,200 fine with a boot full of 1p coins was not actually legal tender, it has been revealed.
Matthew Lemm, of Cannock, stashed the huge pile of coppers into the boot of a £50,000 Ford Mustang before asking a bailiff to come and meet him to settle a six-year-old fine.
But the 39-year-old was told by the bailiff, who was acting on behalf of Marston Holdings, was told that he could not accept the payment in the form of 1ps.
According to the Royal Mint, 1p and 2p coins are not legal tender if the amount you are paying is over 20p.
If you attempt to pay for a single transaction with 21 or more 1p coins you are contravening the Coinage Act 1971.
This even applies if you buying penny sweets.
In 2012, a judge ordered a British man, Robert Fitzpatrick, to pay £1,118.62 because he tried to pay a £804 debt in 1p and 2p coins.
You can spend up to £5 in 5p or 10p coins, or up to £10 each in 50p and 20p pieces.
Pound coins are legal tender for any amount, offering the chance for a frisson of defiance while staying on the right side of the law.
Mr Lemm claims the bill was due to a 2013 paperwork error – in which he forgot to let the DVLA know that a car he had sold would be off the road.
But the businessman – who owns a steakhouse in Walsall – moved out shortly after selling the motor and wasn’t aware of the court summons until 2019.
He said: “I received a call from the bailiffs out of the blue.
“They told me that they were acting on behalf of the court and told me to pay a £1,200 debt over the phone.
“He said if I didn’t pay then he would go round to my address, which wasn’t even mine, and would start removing goods that day.”
Matthew claims the bailiff joked to him that he was “fast and efficient at getting the payment” so began a cunning plan to “slow him down.”
He agreed to pay “every single penny” of the debt and drove to Barclays Bank in Walsall to withdraw the 120,000 coins to settle the final bill.
He said: “I rang up to pre-order the coins the day before.
“Luckily, we deal with the bank daily and they didn’t even ask why we needed all the coins – they just handed them over.
“I told them I have every last penny of it and I do have every last penny. Unfortunately for him, though, it’s in 1ps.
“Because I’m a legitimate businessman I want a receipt – which means my man is going to have to count it.”
(Image: Matthew Lemm)
In the hilarious clip, Matthew directs the white t-shirt clad bailiff to his car and shows him the huge haul of copper stashed in the boot.
A bucket and spade was also placed next to the pile to “help with the removal” of the coins.
Taking the gag in good humour, the perplexed bailiff can be seen saying “he cannot accept” the payment and left it behind.
“The look on his face when he saw the pennies was priceless,” Matthew said. “I offered to pay but he said he did not have to accept it and left it in the boot.
“Sadly, the bailiff has classed it as a non-payment and has said he will take it higher.”
The practical joker said he chose to get his own back after his attitude on the phone to me.
He said: “He said he would have a locksmith, my home and take my possessions on the day that he called me is a little bit extreme.
“I’ve done this to prove a point – this kind of experience can be a scary thing.”
Social media viewers praised the business owner for his hilarious prank.
One said: “I was in stitches when I saw his face. I can’t believe you had the balls to do it – proper class stuff.”
Another added: “That serves them right. They can’t go round demanding cash on the first day they contact you – it’s well out of order.”
Marston Holdings has been contacted on a number of occasions for a comment.
*At time of this article’s publication no statement has been provided to BirminghamLive
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