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Canada Judge Rules a Thumbs-Up Emoji Can Legally Seal a Contract, Causes Farmer to Pay RM200K


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A Canadian judge recently ruled that sending a thumbs-up emoji may now be considered the agreement of a legally binding contract.

Various news reports stated that the thumbs-up emoji proved pivotal in a case involving farmer Chris Achter of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and a 2021 deal to sell 87 metric tons of flax to grain buyer Kent Mickleborough.

Mickleborough signed the contract for the deal, texted a picture of it to Achter, and wrote, “Please confirm flax contract,” according to court documents, to which Achter responded with a thumbs-up emoji.

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When Achter did not send the flax to Mickleborough, the grain buyer filed a lawsuit stating he thought Achter’s thumbs-up emoji was an agreement to the contract.

Judge T.J. Keene of the Court of King’s Bench in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, agreed and ruled that the thumbs-up emoji Achter sent was an agreement to the contract and ordered Achter to pay Mickleborough $82,200 in Canadian dollars (RM288,948).


Breaking down the thumbs up emoji

It was stated that Mickleborough considered the thumbs-up response to be an agreement between him and Achter because he included the “Please confirm flax contract” text along with the photo of the contract.

“At the time, I understood this to be that Chris was agreeing to the contract and this was his way of (signaling) that agreement.”

On the other hand, Achter stated in a deposition that he did not intend for the emoji to be a signature or agreement to the contract.

“I confirm that the thumbs-up emoji simply confirmed that I received the flax contract. It was not a confirmation that I agreed with the terms of the Flax Contract. The full terms and conditions of the Flax Contract were not sent to me, and I understood that the complete contract would follow by fax or email for me to review and sign,” he explained.

Achter also said he and Mickleborough, who had a business relationship ever since 2015, regularly texted, with many of the texts being informal.

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In the past, Achter had responded to other contracts with phrases like “looks good,” “ok”, and “yup,”.

“I deny that he accepted the thumbs-up emoji as a digital signature of the incomplete contract. I did not have time to review the Flax Contract and merely wanted to indicate that I did receive his text message.”

Additionally, he argued that allowing for the thumbs-up emoji to qualify as “identity and acceptance would open up the flood gates to allow all sorts of cases coming forward asking for interpretations as to what various different emojis mean.”

However, it didn’t seem to sway the judge, who declared that a thumbs up is a non-traditional means to ‘sign’ a document. Still, nevertheless, under these circumstances, this was a valid way to convey Achter’s acceptance of the flax contract.

“This Court cannot (nor should it) attempt to stem the tide of technology and common usage – this appears to be the new reality in Canadian society, and courts will have to be ready to meet the new challenges that may arise from the use of emoji and the like,” they stated.

What do you think of the matter? Let us know in the comments section.


Also read: UK Court Rules That Calling Men ‘Bald’ at Work Will Now be Considered as Sexual Harassment

Ft Bald

Source: 123RF
Source: 123RF

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