Careful What You Text: Thumbs-up Emoji Costs Canadian Farmer $62K in Contract Dispute

(AP Photo/Apple Inc.)

Canada seems to have gone somewhat insane in the last few years, what with their love of assisted suicide, a licensing board’s decision to force opinionated psychologist and social media star Dr. Jordan Peterson to undergo “Social Media Retraining,” their draconian policies during the pandemic, and their government’s protracted fight with their own truckers in February 2022.


Now a judge has ruled that a farmer’s “thumbs-up” response via text indicated his acceptance of a proposed contract requiring him to sell 86 metric tons of flax to grain producer Southwest Terminal (SWT) and grain buyer Kent Mickleborough. When SWT demanded to know where the flax was when the farmer, Chris Achter, missed the delivery date, Achter claimed he didn’t even read the contract, much less agree to it—he was merely using the emoji to indicate that he got the text.

But Mickleborough saw things differently:

Mickleborough considered the thumbs-up response to be an agreement between him and Achter because he included the “Please confirm flax contract” text along with the photo of the contract, according to court documents.

“At the time, I understood this to be that Chris was agreeing to the contract and this was his way of (signaling) that agreement,” Mickleborough said.

Achter’s explanation:

I confirm that the thumbs-up emoji simply confirmed that I received the flax contract…

It was not a confirmation that I agreed with the terms of the Flax Contract. The full terms and conditions of the Flax Contract were not sent to me, and I understood that the complete contract would follow by fax or email for me to review and sign.


The judge sided against the farmer, basically saying, sorry, you agreed to it with your thumbs-up—and you’re liable for almost $62,000.

I’ve written some texts in my time that I wish I could take back, but ho boy, it’s never cost me 62 grand.

Judge J. T. Keene wrote in the June ruling:

I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Chris okayed or approved the contract just like he had one before except this time he used a thumbs-up emoji…

A 👍 is a non-traditional means to ‘sign’ a document but nevertheless under these circumstances this was a valid way to convey Achter’s acceptance of the flax contract.

Interesting that the judge uses the farmer’s first name instead of writing “Mr. Achter.” Doesn’t seem very professional, in my opinion.

Now, I think this is a nonsensical decision, but I should point out that the farmer had a financial incentive to walk away from this deal as grain prices had risen substantially between the time of the texts and the date when the grain was supposed to be delivered.


But let’s say he did walk out of the deal for monetary reasons, was he still at fault? I say no; it’s the fault of the grain buyer who failed to document the deal. This was for tens of thousands of dollars—it wasn’t, “Hey, can I borrow ten bucks?”

Do they not have pens in Canada? Have they not heard of contracts? When you’re talking a deal, you don’t just say, “Sure, I agree to that”—you sign your name on the dotted line.

The crazy Great White North—now they’re conducting business by emojis. Oh, Canada.


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