Emoji ruled legally binding in Canada

Giving a digital thumbs up to a request is a binding legal agreement, rules a Canadian court. When asked to confirm a contract for flax, a flax seller responded with a "thumbs up" emoji. The buyer relied on this thumbs up, and a lawsuit arose when the flax did not arrive.

The meaning of the emoji and the message its sender claims to have thought he was sending were discussed, but in the end, the judge determined that, in this situation, it was indeed a valid way to "sign" a contract. The judge believes this will not be the last time such an interpretation is necessary; the world is a changing place soon to be even more filled with emoji.


"I did not have time to review the Flax Contract and merely wanted to indicate that I did receive his text message," Achter said.

In a cross-examination, Achter said he had never Googled the meaning of a thumbs-up emoji, and his lawyer said that his client is "not an expert in emojis."

But in the ruling, Justice Timothy Keene decided that while 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.'"

The judge found that the contract was therefore enforceable, and consequently breached. He awarded damages to the amount of $82,200.21 ($61,498.09 US) plus interest.