Farmer Owes $82,000 in Contract Dispute Over Use of a Thumbs-up Emoji

A Canadian farmer owes $82,000 for breach of contract after using a thumbs-up emoji in a text message. According to court documents, grain purchasers with South West Terminal Ltd. (SWT) sent a text message to grain suppliers wanting to buy flax for $17 a bushel for delivery in October, November or December of 2021. After phone calls with farmers Bob and Chris Achter, SWT drafted a contract for Chris Achter to sell SWT 86 metric tons of flax for $17 a bushel and deliver the flax in November. The SWT rep signed the contract and sent a photo of it via cellphone to Chris Achter, along with the message “Please confirm flax contract.” Achter responded with a thumbs-up emoji, which SWT took to mean that he was acknowledging that he accepted the contract and would deliver the flax in November. Achter, however, said he merely used the thumbs-up emoji to confirm that he had received the flax contract, not that it was confirmation that he agreed to it. In the meantime, by November the cost of flax had risen to $41 a bushel. SWT filed suit against Achter, and in the end the court ruled in favor of SWT, saying that the thumbs-up emoji can take the place of a signature, which made the contract valid. The judge ruled that Achter owed SWT $82,000 plus interest and costs for failing to deliver the flax.