A Canadian judge has ruled that a thumbs-up emoji can be considered a legally binding agreement, resulting in a farmer being ordered to pay over $82,000 for failing to deliver a product to a grain buyer after responding with a thumbs-up image via text message.
According to CBC News, the Court of King’s Bench determined that the grain buyer, Kent Mickleborough, sent a text message expressing interest in purchasing 86 tonnes of flax at a price of $17 per bushel. He later sent a picture of a contract to deliver the flax to a farmer named Chris Achter, accompanied by a request to confirm the flax contract. In response, Achter replied with a thumbs-up emoji.
However, when the delivery date arrived, the flax was not delivered, and the crop’s prices had risen. The farmer argued that the emoji only indicated receipt of the contract in the text message, without intending to signify agreement to its terms.
Justice Timothy Keene, however, stated that the thumbs-up emoji met the requirements of a signature, leading to a breach of contract by the farmer. In his decision, Keene acknowledged that using a thumbs-up emoji as a form of signature was unconventional but deemed it valid under the circumstances.
He also noted that the court should not attempt to impede the use of technology and common practices like emojis, as they reflect the new reality in Canadian society, and courts must be prepared to address the challenges they present.