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Court Rules Emojis Can Be Legally Binding

Claiming that courts need to adapt to new modes of communication, a judge in Saskatchewan ruled in favor of a grain buyer suing a farmer for backing out of a business deal.

According to court documents, grain buyer Kent Mickleborough sent a mass text message to a variety of potential vendors expressing a willingness to purchase a certain tonnage of flax at a set price. Chris Achter, a local grain farmer, responded in the affirmative. Mickleborough says he spoke to Achter over the phone, then texted a photo of a contract, asking in a text to “please confirm flax contract.”

Achter responded to that text with a thumbs-up emoji. He ended up not delivering the flax by the agreed-upon date, however, because the market price of the flax had increased and he was looking for a better deal. In the lawsuit, Mickleborough claimed that the thumbs-up emoji indicated a willingness to adopt the terms of the contract; Achter, however, disputes that claim, saying that he intended only to confirm receipt of the document, not a commitment to sign it.

Justice Timothy Keene wrote in his ruling,

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 … This appears to be the new reality in Canadian society. Courts will have to be ready to meet the new challenges that may arise from the use of emojis and the like.

Possible Preaching Angle:

God desires honesty in all business transactions and financial commitments. Operating with integrity means honoring business commitments.

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