An Emoji Can be a Signature

Basically, we are now back to the days of hieroglyphics when documents would be etched in stone or cave man days when a picture on the wall would tell a thousand words.

The Court of King’s Bench for Saskatchewan recently ruled that a “thumbs up” emoji qualified as a signature on a contract. That ruling could have applicability elsewhere. See South West Terminal Ltd. v Achter Land.

After discussing a flax contract over the phone, the Buyer texted the Seller a photo of the flax contract on March 26, 2021, along with the text message:

“Please confirm flax contract.”

The Seller’s texted back a thumbs-up emoji, which the Buyer believed to mean that the Seller’s accepted the contract.

The Seller failed to deliver the flax and disputed that there was a contract.

The parties had a longstanding business relationship. They had previously entered into a number of similar contracts in a similar manner, with a photo of the contract being texted to the Seller, which would then be accepted a text message in reply. In the affirmative including: “Looks good,” “OK,” and “Yup.”

So, these contracts were rather casual in nature.

The legal “test for agreeing to a contract for legal purposes is not whether the parties to the contract subjectively believed they were entering into a contract. Instead, it is whether an objective, reasonable bystander would come to the conclusion that the parties had entered into a contractual agreement.”

Here, The Court concluded that a reasonable bystander would have concluded that there was indeed a contract. In this case, the contract needed to be in writing and signed. The Court decided that it was in writing and that the presence of the thumbs up emoji constituted a signature.


In Ontario, this might apply to a contract for the sale of property. So, be careful!

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker

Comments 2

  1. “The Seller’s texted back a thumbs-up emoji, which the Buyer believed to mean that the Seller’s accepted the contract.”

    Really? You’re a lawyer and this is how you pluralize words?

    1. Post

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