Paying in coins? There are legal limits

Paying in coins? There are legal limits

You do not have to accept a pile of 10-cent, 20-cent or 50-cent coins in payment of a debt.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) pointed out yesterday that there are legal limits when it comes to paying with small change. It means that you can reject coins used to settle an amount in excess of these limits and even take civil action against the payer to recover the debt.

The MAS statement follows two recent high-profile incidents involving people settling debts - and a few scores in the process - by using large amounts of coins.

In the first case, early last month, cellphone store Mobile Air at Sim Lim Square tried to give a customer a refund of more than $1,000 in coins.

In the second case, on Tuesday, Mr Lester Ong Boon Lin, a customer of car dealer Exotic Motors, left $19,000 worth of coins as payment at the car showroom. It was a particularly toxic form of protest, given that the change had a strong odour of fish.

Mr Ong, said to be the son of a famous nasi lemak franchise owner, had been ordered by a court a few months ago to pay the amount to Exotic Motors.

The MAS said yesterday that "a payee has no obligation to accept coins beyond the legal tender limits set out in the Currency Act".

The legal tender limit for coins of denomination below 50 cents is $2 per denomination. For 50-cent coins, the limit is $10. However, there are no limits for payment in $1 coins. That would mean that 19,000 $1 coins would not have breached the legal tender limits.

"The payee has the right to reject coins used to pay any amount in excess of the limits. In such a case, the payer continues to owe the payee the remaining debt," the MAS added.

"The payee may take civil action against the payer to recover the debt." 

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