Legal expert warns to be careful sending thumbs-up emojis after man is ordered to pay £48,134
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In what is probably the most unexpected warning ever, a legal expert has explained why we should all proceed with caution when using the thumbs-up emoji.
Earlier this month, a judge in Canada ordered that a farmer must pay a buyer C$82,000 (£48,134/$62,258) after ruling that a thumbs up emoji is enough to accept contractual terms.
Chris Achter, the owner of the Swift Current farming company in Saskatchewan, sent a thumbs-up emoji in response to a photo of a contract to buy flax sent by grain buyer Kent Mickleborough.
Achter tried and failed to argue that he sent the emoji to acknowledge receipt, but the judge ruled it amounted to a contractual agreement.
So, it would have been a lot cheaper and with a lot less hassle to have just left the message on ‘read’.
Mickleborough said he spoke to Achter on the phone about his potential purchase before texting the farmer a draft of a contract, writing ‘please confirm flax contract’.
When the farming company owner failed to deliver the flax by the date specified, the two couldn’t agree on the meaning behind the emoji, which led to the court case.
The judge ruled that the buyer should be reimbursed after Achter failed to fulfil the contract.
Now, a legal expert has warned that judges outside of Canada could use the ruling as evidence for similar cases involving a thumbs-up emoji.
Andrew Rich, the head of national industrial and employment law at Slater and Gordon in Australia, said: “An Australian court can consider this legal decision when making a ruling. It can be thought of as a suggestion or advice from another court.”
He also told 7News: “While it isn’t a binding precedent, the law is increasingly modernising to accurately reflect the realities of our day-to-day lives.”
Rich said the case is a sign that people need to be more aware of the new realities ‘the use of emojis and other new forms of communication create’.
He added: “When it comes to receiving and sending contracts, always be clear with what you mean, and always read everything carefully. Seek legal advice if you feel uncomfortable.”