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Contracting with emojis

August 29, 2017

We have all heard the demands for simpler, shorter contracts. Most of us sympathize with the view that plain language and thoughtful structure assist with interpretation and understanding. However, many have struggled with the idea that graphics should be introduced (even though there is evidence that even contract experts find them easier to comprehend) and certainly the ‘comic contracts’ that are now openly discussed is, for many, a step too far.

But if you think these ideas are extreme, what about the email I received today from a senior executive, former head of global contracts at a Fortune 50 company? With great delight, he announced the arrival of the emoji contract. I quote:

“I was in a negotiation with a client and they sent me an email with their counterproposal.  My response was an emoji.  Specifically, a thumbs up.    👍🏻  After I sent that I realized I had just contracted with the client using an emoji!  There is no other paperwork for this thing we are doing together.”

Of course, I had to counsel caution – in some parts of the world a thumbs-up has a very different meaning and he might have found he was in a very different form of contract!

But surely the approach he has taken is clear, efficient and enforceable – so what’s the problem?

If you have unusual or innovative examples of contract drafting or management practices, please share them!

 

4 Comments
  1. Not so sure the approach he had taken is enforceable …that remains to be seen since to the best of my knowledge there is no case law to support this yet. In my view, this is like accepting a handshake to close the deal without following up in writing. Why take the risk.

  2. There is no problem, until you get into a dispute and then it will be a case of he said they said. Was there agreement to be contracted? Yes it would seem. Did both parties know what they were agreeing to? Possible, it depends on how detailed the counterproposal was. I suspect they would exchange written docs for signature following the thumbs up sign. Of more concern is how do you store your thumbs up to show in court five years down the line?

  3. Rafael Pinto permalink

    Agreements (be it in the form of a handshake or a thumbs up) are always followed by the execution of the agreement. So, if you agree to something using an emoji and then he business go on as planned… why should the commitment be questioned?

  4. Rafael Pinto permalink

    Agreements (be it in the form of a handshake or a thumbs up) are always followed by the execution of the agreement. So, if you agree to something using an emoji and then the business go on as planned… why should the commitment be questioned?

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