Legal Expert Warns To Be Careful Sending Thumbs-Up Emojis After Man Is Ordered To Pay $62,258

Legal professionals have recently received a cautionary advisory regarding the use of the thumbs-up emoji.
Credit: Alamy

People have received cautionary advice regarding the use of the thumbs-up emoji.

While many will use this emoji each and every day around the world, a recent case might make you think twice about it.

A judge in Canada has ordered that a farmer pay a buyer a hefty sum of C$82,000 ($62,258) due to his use of the thumbs-up emoji.

What he thought was a mere agreement to a message turned out to have significant legal implications he hadn’t anticipated.

Find out more about the case below…

After failing to fulfil a shipment of grain, the farmer was obligated to pay up the substantial sum.

The buyer sought reimbursement, and a Canadian judge sided with the buyer, deeming the supplier’s response of a thumbs-up emoji to the message ‘Please confirm flax contract’ as legally binding confirmation.

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Despite the farmer’s argument that the thumbs-up emoji was only meant to acknowledge receipt of the contract, not signify agreement to its terms, months later, the buyer still hadn’t received the flax shipment.

According to court documents, the farmer’s claim was not accepted by the judge, who stated that, based on the ‘balance of probabilities’, the commonly-used thumbs-up icon indeed indicated approval of the contract.

Man with head in hands.
A legal expert has warned people to be careful when sending thumbs-up emojis to others. Credit: Alamy

Following the Canadian ruling, an Australian legal expert has warned that judges might reference it as precedent in similar cases involving a thumbs-up emoji.

This landmark decision could potentially influence future judgments in Australia and raise awareness about the legal implications of using emojis in contractual contexts.

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Andrew Rich, the head of national industrial and employment law at Slater and Gordon, has emphasised that there is no impediment preventing an Australian judge from citing the Canadian case in their legal considerations.

This means that the precedent set in Canada could be relevant and applicable in Australian courts, potentially affecting how similar cases involving emojis are decided.

Rich tells 7News: “An Australian court can consider this legal decision when making a ruling. It can be thought of as a suggestion or advice from another court.”

Man using phone.
The farmer was forced to pay up a substantial sum. Credit: Alamy

According to Rich, Australians could find themselves in a precarious situation if they receive a contract from their employer and respond with a simple thumbs-up emoji to acknowledge receipt.

This seemingly innocuous gesture might be misinterpreted as agreeing to the contract’s terms.

To avoid such misunderstandings, he strongly advises people to exercise caution and thoroughly review any legally binding contracts they receive.

If they feel uncertain or confused about the content, seeking legal advice is crucial to ensure they fully comprehend the implications before giving any form of confirmation.

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