An accountant has successfully sued a disgruntled client who attempted to settle an £800 bill by dumping five crate loads of coins in his garden.
The stunt backfired when Philip Lawrence took Robert Fitzpatrick to court, arguing that it is illegal to pay off debts higher than £10 with coins. Mr Fitzpatrick, 24, ended up with a £1,118.62 bill after a judge ruled that the delivery was unacceptable.
Colchester County Court heard that the dispute arose when the care home boss failed to honour a credit agreement with Baverstocks Accountants. Mr Lawrence, 58, had sued his former client for the debt owed, interest and for the daily cost of storing the boxes of coins.
Between November 30 and December 1 last year, Mr Fitzpatrick left five crates containing mostly 1p and 2p coins in Mr Lawrence’s front garden in Chappel, Essex.
“It was really quite remarkable,” Mr Lawrence, co-director of Colchester-based Baverstocks, said.
“Incredulous is really the only word. I was not at home when the boxes were delivered and did not sign for them.”
“My partner phoned me to ask if I was expecting a delivery and when I told her that I wasn’t, she opened the boxes only to find all these coins.”
Under the Coinage Act 1971, copper coins are only legal tender up to the value of 20p, coins worth up to 10p can be used for payment up to £5 and coins worth more than 10p cannot be used for payment of any amount exceeding £10.
Judge Charles Molle ordered Mr Fitzpatrick and his business, Fitzpatrick Total Home Care, to repay Mr Lawrence in full, with interest but could not award him the storage costs due to a lack of contract.