Canadian judge rules: thumbs up seals contract

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. That will be careful from now on. When Dutch judges start to follow their Canadian colleagues, the next time you think you can make a proposal, you will give it a thumbs up. In the country where maple syrup flows freely, flannel is still universally worn and people regularly beat each other completely drunk during a friendly game of ice hockey, a farmer has been told that he still has to cough up 61,442 dollars (US, 82,000 Canadian dollars). And all because of an emoji.

A contract, a thumb and thousands of dollars worth of flax

Chris Achter is his name, and in March 2021 he responded with the conscious symbol to a proposal from Kent Mickleborough about the supply of a significant quantity of flax. Mickleborough had explicitly requested confirmation of the contract of which he had added an image. Mickleborough took the thumbs up as confirmation and prepared for the arrival of 86 tons of flax which he thought he had ordered from Achter. That’s what he thought of it behind.

November came and went, but no flax. When Mickleborough went to get a story, he heard from Achter that he only thought he had seen the contract. What did not help the problem is the fact that flax prices had meanwhile risen sharply. It is a simple misunderstanding in itself, but one that involves serious amounts of money. As a commercial buyer at South West Terminal, Mickleborough also had a few things depending on the deal.

“Not an expert in Emojis”

And so there was only one logical conclusion to the story: a visit to the courthouse. And now let the documents of this lawsuit be public. So take a seat, dear reader. This one’s a doozy. It pretty much boiled down to a few hours of bickering about what exactly the thumbs up meant. A kind of 21st century hieroglyphic study.

Behind denies in all colors and colors that he represented the thumb the requested confirmation of the contract. Only that he wanted to indicate that he had seen the contract. Further radio silence was the result of his busy schedule. He simply didn’t have the time to go through the document. During the trial, Achter protested against his lawyer conducting a cross-examination. According to him, his client is not an expert on emojis. Maybe they should have brought one in for the trial. A bored teenager who takes a seat in the bench or something while append. In the absence of an emojiologist, judge Timothy Keene himself made a shot at the title.

During the case, he interpreted the definition of the emoji as it appears on While, he says, both sides in the case “went on a long quest for a kind of Rosetta stone, which led them through cases from Israel, New York State and Canadian tribunals.” All that to find out what the hell a simple thumbs up must mean.

According to the judge, the court must adapt to the “new reality.”

But the verdict has now been passed, and the judge was crystal clear. A thumbs up placed on the image of the contract amounts to a confirmation of that contract. “This court confirms that a thumbs up emoji is a non-traditional way to sign a document. Nevertheless, under these circumstances, it constitutes a valid way of conveying the purposes of a signature.” And so farmer Achter must pay damages for not fulfilling that contract.

Judge Keene did not share the defense’s concerns that such a ruling would spark a deluge of new interpretations of emojis. “It seems that this is a new reality for Canadian society. The Canadian court will have to be prepared to face the new challenges posed by the use of emojis and the like.” According to Keene, courts should not be a barrier to technological progress. Very progressive of you, Keene! And I want to thank you for the laughter.

A Canadian judge has ruled that a thumbs up under a photo of a contract is legally valid.

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