Whoever imagined that sending a smiley face or thumbs up emoticon could land you in an unfortunate situation under the law
Apparently pure emojis in a text or email could possibly prompt you being bound by undesirable contracts and held subject for damages‚ cautions, if not more.
“Setting a thumbs up‚ smiley face‚ container of champagne‚ moving figures‚ sunshine‚ rainbow‚ heart‚ or whatever other emoji which makes the impression of positivity‚ acknowledgment or assention in the psyche of the receiver‚ may bring about the decision of a lawful contract.”
Du Plessis clarified this could bring about the sender being bound “as though he had the will and expectation to go into the agreement”. “Should you at that point break the contract‚ you may end up noticeably subject to the next gathering for conceivable harms.”
According to Section 22 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECTA) provides that contracts concluded wholly or partly by a data message is valid in law.
Du Plessis added: “If the sender argues that the receiver did not read the acceptance‚ section 23 of the ECTA even provides that the data message (which created the impression of positivity or acceptance) must be regarded as having been received by the receiver‚ and therefore concluded‚ when the complete data message enters the information system used by the receiver and is capable of being retrieved by the receiver.”
He added that cases have already come before the courts that demonstrate the risks of careless messages.
“In one case‚ during lease negotiations‚ an instant message user sent a ‘smiley’‚ a bottle of champagne‚ and dancing figures to a landlord who was advertising a property for rent. “As a result‚ the landlord removed his on-line advertisement. The court stated that these emoticons conveyed to the landlord that everything was in order‚ and that the message was misleading. The sender was subsequently ordered to compensate the landlord for the landlord’s loss of prospective rental income‚” he said.
In another case‚ a court found that an SMS constituted an acceptance of an offer and as such‚ a valid contract has been concluded.
“Therefore‚ if you are negotiating an employment contract per SMS or instant message‚ and create the impression of positivity or acceptance‚ you can be held liable for the employer’s loss of revenue if you then breach that contract‚” he said.