Legal force of emojis: Thumbs up as a contract

Some pictures say more than a thousand words: In the case of emojis, this wisdom can sometimes become a snare.
Image: dpa

Hearts, kisses, thumbs up: emojis are not just a gimmick on the internet. With their help, contracts can even come about.

Emojis have become an integral part of our digital communication. Many people can no longer imagine their Messenger messages and social network posts without colorful faces, gestures and symbols. The emojis close a gap in the digital discourse. They can fulfill similar functions as intonation, gestures, facial expressions and other body language elements in real conversations. Just as a nod of the other person’s head can signal approval of an offer, the per Whatsapp interpret sent 👍 as a declaration of acceptance.

Depending on the individual case, emojis can direct the discourse by replacing words, clarifying and reinforcing messages, expressing irony or emotionally supplementing and emphasizing statements. Sometimes, however, the emoji messages have to be decrypted – this can have far-reaching legal consequences. The emoji composition, which played a key role in an Israeli tenancy law case, can be described as a peculiar addition. Prospective tenants had combined a whole series of colorful pictures there: 💃 👯 ♀️ ✌️ ☄️ 🐿 🍾. For the judge, the prospective tenants signaled their anticipation. Together with other messages in which the landlord was put off and which also contained other positive emojis, the pictures ultimately established pre-contractual liability because the tenants disappointed the trust that had been awakened and still jumped off.

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