Farmers Forum staff
SASKATCHEWAN — When a Saskatchewan farmer texted a thumbs-up symbol to a grain buyer, it was as good as putting his signature on a contract, a judge ruled in June.
Swift Current producer Chris Achter must pay over $82,000 to South West Terminal for 87 tonnes of flax the farmer never delivered, under a contract he never physically signed. The judge decided that Achter is on the hook because he replied with a thumbs-up ‘emoji’ when the Terminal’s representative texted him an image of the delivery contract in November 2021.
Achter maintained that he was only signalling his receipt of the contract, not entering into a binding agreement. His lawyer also unsuccessfully argued that the courts could be inundated with requests to discern the meaning of other emojis — such as the handshake and forward-facing fist — if the precedent was set in this case.
“I agree that this case is novel (at least in Saskatchewan) but nevertheless this Court cannot (nor should it) attempt to stem the tide of technology and common usage – this appears to be the new reality in Canadian society and courts will have to be ready to meet the new challenges that may arise from the use of emojis and the like,” wrote Justice Timothy Keene of the Court of King’s Bench in the decision recognizing the contract.