Written by: Nic Sewell | Grain Marketing Advisor | 0436 606 525
You have a contract!!
Last month a Canadian farmer was sued for failing to deliver on a contract, as they believed that an emoji could not be used to confirm a legally binding contract. The buyer successfully argued that the farmer had agreed to the contract by sending a thumbs-up emoji in response to a text message containing the terms of the contract. The court agreed, finding that the thumbs-up emoji was a clear indication of the farmer’s assent to the contract.
For many, this would be of surprise or concern, but to honest I would have been more concerned if it went the other way. Looking through my phone and there are not many conversations that don’t have at least one emoji. A contract is an agreement between two or more persons, which is legally enforceable. A grain contract can be made wholly in writing or wholly verbally. It can also be a mixture of oral and written terms, or even made as a gesture. In other words, an emoji or a physical handshake can be enough for a contract to be entered. For a guide on the do’s and don’ts of agreeing to contracts, click on the following link.
There are several reasons why emojis are becoming important for contractual agreements. Emojis are a convenient way to communicate assent to terms. They are easy to type and send, and they can be used in a variety of contexts. Emoji’s express tone, which is often missed in normal text messaging. Hence, they are a good way to get the message across. Of course, there are also some challenges associated with using emojis for contractual agreements.
The main one is that the meaning of emojis can vary depending on the context in which they are used and how the recipient interprets it. For example, a thumbs up emoji could be interpreted as a sign of approval, agreement, or simply acknowledgement. In the world of grain marketing, it might go something like this.
What’s the price for 500t of last year’s barley in Albany today?
One party may interpret this as in instruction to sell, while the other may see this as an acknowledgement of the price. Also, as is often the case with communication, not all messages are received immediately. This doesn’t just apply for emoji’s but with any written correspondence such as text or Whatsapp. So, it is not uncommon for messages to be unread or get mixed up, leaving responses being sent to the wrong text! One way to avoid a miscommunication is to respond directly on text messages with the terms of the contract. Or better yet write out in your own words what you are agreeing to. I’m sure we have all had plenty of mix-ups like this happen in our day-to-day life, which could be avoided using either of these approaches.
In summary, here are some tips for using emojis in all your communications, but most importantly when contracts are discussed:
- Use clear and concise language in conjunction with emojis.
sell 500t barley at $300.
- Be aware of the potential for emojis to be misinterpreted.
could mean ‘thanks’ or ‘let’s hope’.
- Use emojis that are commonly understood to have a specific meaning.
commonly understood as ‘no deal’.
- Avoid using emojis that could be seen as ambiguous or misleading.
Nearly all of them.
- Reply directly on messages or confirm your instruction.
Yes, sell 500t of last year’s barley at $300.
By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your use of emojis is clear & concise with no legal implications.