Smileys not a laughing matter

Who knew? Sending a smiley face or thumbs-up emoji could land you in legal trouble.

Seemingly innocent emoticons in an instant message or e-mail could potentially lead to your being bound by unwanted contracts and held liable for damages‚ warns legal adviser to insurance and risk specialist Risk Benefit Solutions Johannes du Plessis.

“Many individuals negotiate lease agreements with landlords or agents‚ or make purchases and sale agreements with sellers they find in newspaper or website classifieds.

“Placing a thumbs-up‚ smiley face‚ bottle of champagne‚ dancing figures‚ sunshine‚ rainbow‚ heart‚ or any other emoticon which creates the impression of positivity‚ acceptance or agreement in the mind of the receiver‚ might result in the conclusion of a legal contract.”

Du Plessis explained that this could result in the sender being bound “as if he had the will and intention to enter into the contract”.

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