In a world full of "Likes" and "Care" and "Poo" pictures, it feels like we're going a little backwards in time. Think about it, we're now communicating with digital hieroglyphs! For people of few words, that is a great thing, but what about in cases with actual contracts? If I just sign the paperwork when I buy a house with a smiley face, would that work? Of course not... or would it?

For people who study law, a cornerstone of our legal system relies on previous cases brought before the court. That's why when you hear in legal shows things like "John Doe Versus So & So", it's because the lawyer is citing a past legal case, that they feel is a good example of their current case. Sometimes the other lawyer will have a counter case and judgement for his example. The judge will agree, offer a counter point, or research the ruling. I'm over simplifying it, but it is quite interesting, especially when you look at a recent Canadian case dealing with signatures... and emojis!

The Emoji Movie
Columbia Pictures

A judge (the King's Bench) for Saskatchewan ruled in a case on an incident from March of 2021. A grain buyer sent a text message with a contract to a farmer. The text also included: "Please confirm flax contract." The farmer responded with a "thumbs-up" emoji. The grain buyer interpreted as the contract being agreed to, where as the farmer meant the "like" as a confirmation of receiving the contract. Obviously, since the court was involved, things did not go the way they were expected to.

Think Stock
Think Stock

The judge ruled in favor of the grain buyer, stating how the thumbs-up emoji was:

"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.'"
- Justice Timothy Keene

How much did that "LIKE" cost? Damages to the tune of $61,498.09 (US currency) plus interest. Above I mentioned how this ruling could effect the future of technology and contracts, echoing the concern of the farmer's legal counsel. The judge dismissed the concern, stating how courts will need to be ready to meet the new challenges that technologies and society will bring.

For more on the case and the Judge's ruling, check out

So, could emojis be a legal concern in Washington? With the size of our agriculture industry, and the outcome of this case, only time will tell. What do you think? Did the judge rule fairly or was his decision a giant poo emoji? Tap the App and let us know!

Mick Hutson/Redferns
Mick Hutson/Redferns

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