September 13, 2023

Thumbs Up!


Thumbs Up!
Ready to get emoji-onal? Wu Yi, Unsplash.

The Fifteenth Arbitration Appellate Court in Rostov-on-Don has upheld an initial court's ruling that the "thumbs-up" emoji serves as legal confirmation, tantamount to a signature on an agreement.

In March 2022, entrepreneur Siranush Harutyunyan finalized a R685,000 purchase (about $7,000) with another entrepreneur, Rodion Rudenko, for a mobile trading kiosk in the form of a retro van. The contract stipulated that the kiosk's color scheme required mutual approval through an additional agreement. Harutyunyan paid a R479,000 deposit, with the balance due before delivery. The contract also recognized the legal validity of documents exchanged via email or communication platforms, including WhatsApp.

Due to a delayed delivery, Harutyunyan sought a refund on his deposit. Rudenko claimed no additional agreement on kiosk colors was reached due to production delays. However, WhatsApp messages were presented in court in which both parties discussed kiosk color and size. On April 6, Rudenko suggested "A good yellow strip on a white background," receiving a thumbs-up emoji in response from Harutyunyan, and then went forward with the color scheme, which eventually led to the court case.

“This emoji means ‘good,’ in common sense when communicating through electronic correspondence,” the court order noted. The court also clarified that, following the emoji, Harutyunyan did not specify the actual meaning behind the thumbs-up answer, and that “the defendant took this answer as an agreement that did not require additional explanation.”

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