From the end of next month the old style Edward Elgar £20 note will be withdrawn from circulation, meaning you can't use it, though you can trade it in at a bank.
Yet what is, and isn't, acceptable is often shrouded in mist - mainly because the term 'legal tender' is pretty spectacularly misunderstood.
- Are Scottish bank notes legal tender? No, not even in Scotland, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be used. It simply means most people don't understand what legal tender is (see below). Bank of England notes are only legal tender in England and Wales, meaning there are no legal tender notes in Scotland at all.
- What is legal tender? It simply means if you have a court order against you for money, the person you owe cannot turn down your settlement if you offer to pay by legal tender.
- Trivia time - Is 22p of 2ps legal tender? No, but 18p is. For pub quiz use only, be aware that with coins the amount counts. So you can settle court debts of up to 20p in 1ps and 2ps; up to £5 in 5p's & 10p's, and up to £10 in 20p's & 50p's. However, £1 & £2 coins are legal tender up to any amount - in England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland.
- What if a shop refuses your cash? There's little you can do, shops don't have to sell you goods, whatever you offer for payment.
Let me finish with a quick word to English shopkeepers - please accept Scottish and Northern Irish notes. While not legal tender, they are UK Parliament-approved legal currency, which makes them a perfectly acceptable way to pay.
Further reading/Key links