No, they are not. Only Bank of England notes are legal tender, i.e. they cannot be refused in settlement of a debt. Scottish banknotes are issued by the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Clydesdale Bank, but hold the status of promissory notes only. So, far from being legal tender, they are nothing more than a glorified IOU!
To complicate matters, while Bank of England notes are legal tender in England and Wales, they are not so in Scotland or Northern Ireland (more IOUs!).
When it comes to coins, Section 2(1A) of the Coinage Act 1971 provides that the following are legal tender:
- 20p and 50p coins, for payment of any amount not exceeding £10;
- 5p and 10p coins, for payment of any amount not exceeding £5; and
- 2p and 1p coins, for payment of any amount not exceeding 20 pence.
Gold sovereigns, £5 coins, £2 coins and £1 coins are good for payment of any amount.
What really caught my eye though was Section 8 of the Act, which concerns “The trial of the pyx”.
For the purpose of ascertaining that coins issued from the Mint have been coined in accordance with this Act a trial of the pyx shall be held at least once in every year in which coins have been issued from the Mint.
The trial of the pyx involves:
the summoning of a jury of not less than six out of competent freemen of the mystery of goldsmiths of the City of London or other competent persons;
I wonder if they sell tickets? It sounds amazing!