Farmer owes $82,000 in contract dispute over use of a ‘thumbs-up' emoji, judge says

Farmer owes $82,000 in contract dispute over use of a ‘thumbs-up' emoji, judge says

New York CNN

A Canadian farmer is owed $82,000 by a contract breach after sending a text with a thumbs-up emoji.

In March 2021, according to documents filed by the King's Bench for Saskatchewan, grain buyers with South West Terminal, Ltd. sent a message via text to grain suppliers asking for flax at $17 per bushel for a delivery date in October, December, or November of that year. SWT, after phone conversations with Bob and Chris Achter and drafting a contract to deliver flax to SWT in November for $17 per bushel, drafted the contract.

The SWT representative signed the contract with ink, and then sent the photo via cell phone along with the message "Please confirm flax contracts."

According to documents, Achter replied with an emoji of a thumbs-up.

According to documents, Achter did not deliver flax by November 2021. In November, flax cost $41 per bushel.

In court documents, the SWT representative stated that he had completed at least four contracts with Achter by text. He claimed that the only difference was Achter's response, which this time included a thumbs-up emoji rather than 'yup', ok' or looks good'.

Achter confirmed in court documents that he received the Flax contract by using the thumbs up emoji. The thumbs-up emoji was not confirmation that I had agreed to the Flax Contract's terms. I was not given the full terms and condition of the Flax Contract, but understood that it would be sent by email or fax for me to read and sign. Mr. Mikleborough (sic) regularly texted me and most of the messages were informal.

Achter's lawyer stated in the documents that allowing a simple "emoji" to signify acceptance and identity would allow for all kinds of cases to be filed asking for interpretations on what different emojis meant - such as what does an emoji or a symbol mean? Counsel claims that courts would be flooded with all sorts of cases if the court found that an emoji could replace a signature.

According to court documents, Achter said that he would not sign any contract for a product without an Act of God Clause.

According to documents, the judge stated that it appeared the deal had been 'at least verbally agreed'.

He wrote: 'I am satisfied that Chris approved or okayed the contract, just as he did before. Except this time he used an emoji. I believe that, given the context of all the events, that meant that Chris had approved the flax contract rather than simply receiving the contract and thinking about it. I believe that a reasonable observer would conclude, after knowing the full background of the case, that the parties reached consensus on the flax contract.

Achter was ordered to pay SWT 82,000 plus interest and costs, for not delivering the flax.