Updated: Jul 12
As many saw in the news, the decision between SOUTH WEST TERMINAL LTD. and ACHTER LAND & CATTLE LTD. by the KING’S BENCH FOR SASKATCHEWAN on 8 June 2023 found that a contract was enforceable when the recipient had replied to a text of a photo of a contract by only texting back a Thump-Up emoji.
The fundamental requirements of an enforceable contract remain the same today in our modern world of cell phone texts and emojis instead of complete sentences. Unless legislation requires otherwise, to be enforceable a contract can be verbal and not have to be eg in writing signed at the end with a witness. To be enforceable, a contract need only have the three fundamentals: an offer and acceptance of certain terms (a Consensus Ad Idem, a "meeting of minds") with consideration to bind the parties. The need is always to find there was a certainty.
In this case, there was no dispute over the fundamental facts. Instead, the legal question was primarily whether the Emoji was only used to acknowledge receipt, of a photo of a written contract sent by text to the Defendant. The "Thumb Up" emoji was found to be an acceptance of the contract terms discussed previously in a telephone conversation and other communication based on the surrounding circumstances. The Court found the Defendant had accepted the terms offered and the contract was enforceable.
The lesson is that Courts do apply legal principles despite the changes in technology and social communication styles.