Farmer owes $122,000 after judge rules that thumbs up emoji is legally binding
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A Canadian farmer has been forced to pay for a breach of contract after using a thumbs up emoji in a text message.
The exchange began when farmer Chris Achter was discussing a grain order with buyer Kent Mickleborough, from South West Terminal Ltd (SWT), in 2021.
A contract was then drafted for SWT to buy 86 tonnes of flax from Achter for $25 a bushel, to be delivered in November that year.
Mickleborough signed the contract and took a photo of it before sending it in a text message to Achter with the message: 'Please confirm flax contract'.
Achter then replied with a thumbs up emoji.
But the flax never arrived.
And by that time the cost of flax had increased to $61 per bushel.
Now a judge has ordered Achter to pay $122,000 to SWT, stating that the thumbs up emoji meant he had entered a legally binding contract.
Achter claims the thumbs up merely meant he had seen the message and was waiting to receive the contract via 'fax or mail'.
“I deny that he accepted the thumbs-up emoji as a digital signature of the incomplete contract,” he said.
“I did not have time to review the Flax Contract and merely wanted to indicate that I did receive his text message.”
During the case, his legal team argued 'allowing a simple [thumbs up] emoji to signify 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… Counsel argues the courts will be inundated with all kinds of cases if this court finds that the [thumbs up] emoji can take the place of a signature.'
However, Justice Timothy Keene ruled that in this instance, the thumbs up was used as a signature.
“This court readily acknowledges that a [thumbs up] 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’,” he wrote in his judgement.