Canada's court approves thumps-up emoji Contracts: Report

By: Michael Wilson

Canada's court approves thumps-up emoji Contracts: Report

July 10, 2023 10:12 AM

When responding with a thumbs-up emoji, a Canadian farmer was allegedly indicating his intent to sell lots of flax to a grains buyer in 2021.

A Canadian judge has found that the commonly used thumbs-up emoji can be used to confirm that a person is entering into a legally binding contract. 

The judge, T.J. Keene, was quoted→ in The New York Times as saying that the ruling reflects a "new reality in Canadian society" in which emojis are increasingly used in all spheres of life, including professional interactions.

The dispute centered on whether or not a farmer and grain buyer had reached an agreement for the 2021 sale of metric tons of flax. According to the report, the buyer forwarded the purchase agreement to the farmer with the instruction, "Please confirm the flax contract."

He took the farmer's "thumbs up" emoji as an indication of acceptance of the contract and a confirmation that he had read it. According to the farmer, though, the emoji was only a confirmation that he had "received the flax contract."

The judge observed that the farmer had previously reacted to similar sales agreements with "looks good," "ok," or "yup" and that the parties had maintained a long-standing business connection. In her ruling, Keene cited the description of the thumbs-up emoji as "used to express assent, approval, or support in digital interactions, especially in Western cultures."

Despite the decision, the significance of the thumbs-up emoji can vary from situation to situation, according to Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, who spoke to the New York Times. 

According to the professor, some young people may use the emoji in a caustic or deceptive manner, while others may use it to confirm receiving a message. He believes the gesture may be objectionable in some Middle Eastern countries. The case serves as a reminder to "people that making use of the thumbs-up emoji can have significant legal consequences," according to Goldman.