Be Careful What You Thumbs Up – Farmer owes $61K for using Emoji in Contract

Love them or hate them, emojis have become a part of our life in this age of social media. The thumbs-up emoji that we often use as an easy way to say ‘okay’ has recently been ruled by a Canadian judge as taking part in a contract agreement and considered as a valid signature.

The court case occurred when a buyer, Kent Mickleborough, texted clients to which a farmer, Chris Achter, agreed to sell 86 tons of flax costing CA$17 ($13) per bushel. The buyer then texted a contract agreement to the farmer and asked confirmation if it had been received. The farmer then gave a thumbs-up emoji to confirm receipt of the document. However, the farmer canceled the deal when the prices of flax increased.

The buyer, in this case, sued the farmer. He argued that the thumbs up meant that he just didn’t receive the contract, but that he also agreed with the conditions of the contract. According to the farmer, he gave the thumbs up simply as an acknowledgement of the receipt as he didn’t have time to review its content at that time. However, the judge relied on the definition of the emoji from, stating that the emoji, in digital communications, expresses assent, approval, or encouragement. The judge sided with the buyer and has ordered the farmer to pay CA$82,000 ($61,442).

“This court readily acknowledges that a 👍 emoji is a non-traditional means to ‘sign’ a document but nevertheless under these circumstances this was a valid way to convey the two purposes of a ‘signature’,” Justice Keene wrote.

This case will likely be used as reference in similar court cases in the future. If you are the type that just gives thumbs up here and there, make sure to avoid using it when there is a contract involved.

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