Last week Clydesdale Bank issued the first plastic Scottish £10 note, featuring the poet Robert Burns on the reverse, with RBS set to release its own next week and Bank of Scotland rounding off the set on October 10.
But fans of polymer banknotes might have a problem north of Hadrian’s wall, as not only are the new English banknotes not legal tender in Scotland – it turns out even the new Scottish banknotes aren’t either. In fact, there are absolutely no banknotes AT ALL in Scotland that qualify as legal tender.
Yes. A strange quirk of the British legal system means that in Scotland neither English nor Scottish notes – of any denomination – qualify as legal tender.
“HM Treasury is responsible for defining which notes have ‘legal tender’ status within the United Kingdom,” explains the Committee of Scottish Bankers .
“Scottish Bank notes are not Legal Tender, not even in Scotland. In fact, no banknote whatsoever (including Bank of England notes!) qualifies for the term ‘legal tender’ north of the border.”
But legal tender isn’t quite the same thing as illegal.
“Scottish Banknotes are legal currency – i.e. they are approved by the UK Parliament,” CSCB adds.
The Bank of England points out that – while not legal tender – there are seven banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland authorised to issue notes that are widely used.
“These notes make up the majority of banknotes in Scotland and Northern Ireland and legislation is in place to ensure that noteholders have a similar level of protection as they would for Bank of England notes,” The Bank explains.