Judges in a wide range of cases increasingly need to grasp the intended meanings of emojis, according to lawyers.
The need to understand the widely used text messaging icons is most obvious in criminal cases, where a message containing an emoji that at face value is as innocuous as a maple leaf, could in fact denote a drug deal.
Emojis can also be relevant in the family courts and in employment cases, where informal communication can constitute significant evidence.
Felicity Gerry QC, a barrister specialising in defending serious criminal cases, told The Times that there should be a unified judicial approach to determining what different emojis mean. She said the Supreme Court should lead this.
In addition to the importance of understanding the intended meanings of different emojis, she said there is a concern that judgements could be “made about people based on how they use emojis that are not necessarily accurate, particularly given cultural and linguistic nuances”.