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A John Hancock – or a Thumbs Up are Legally Recognised

We live in a world where digital communications technology is everywhere. Agreements of all kinds are exchanged via email and text message, mostly without issue, but a recent widely-reported Canadian case should make everyone aware of the importance of clarity in the offer and acceptance of agreements. The question put to the court was whether a “thumbs-up” emoji  was an electronic signature on a contract. The case was between a crop buyer and a farm; the buyer had drawn up a contract for the delivery of flax, signed the contract and sent a photo of the contract via text message to the farmer asking him to confirm the contract. The farmer texted back a “thumbs-up” emoji which the buyer took to mean acceptance of the contract. However, when the time came, the flax was not delivered. The court agreed with the buyer that the “thumbs-up” emoji constituted a valid electronic signature and awarded damages. In today’s  business world, the use of digital communications has become the norm, so it is essential that all parties to agreements have clear guidelines as to how to indicate acceptance or otherwise in an unambiguous way.

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Alastair Tempest

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