Farmer ordered to pay after judge says thumbs-up emoji amounts to contract acceptance

A Saskatchewan judge says an emoji can amount to a contractual agreement and ordered a farmer to pay more than $82,000 for not delivering a product to a grain buyer after responding to a text message with a thumbs-up image.

The Court of King’s Bench decision, released in June, found a thumbs-up emoji indicating Chris Achter agreed to a contract to deliver flax to South West Terminal in November 2021.

The company’s grain buyer had sent an image of a contract to Achter through a text message earlier in the year, and the Swift Current farmer responded with an emoji.

The farmer argued that the emoji indicated only that he’d received the contract, not that he accepted its terms.

His lawyers argued that allowing an emoji to act as a signature for contracts would open the floodgates for cases interpreting the meaning of the images.

Justice Timothy Keene says in his decision that emojis are the new reality in Canadian society, and courts must meet the new challenges that the images will bring.

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