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Elon Musk loses court battle against Twitter, as judge sets date for major trial

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Elon Musk‘s court date over his Twitter deal will take place in October, a court has ruled.

The ruling comes from the Delaware Court of Chancery, which heard Twitter’s call for “expedition” of its case after the company sued Mr Musk to complete his buyout of the social media site.

“No one disputes Twitter’s claims are colorable here. The narrow question is: how expedited should these proceedings be?”, Chief Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick said.

“Defendant asks for a seven-month trial date, and advances a few arguments that the Court accounts for [but the] defendants underestimate the ability of this Court to process complex litigation.

“The reality is that delay threatens the risk of irreparable harm. We should go to trial in October of this year.”

Twitter wanted Mr Musk to be tried in court at the earliest possible date, in mid-September. Mr Musk wanted the date pushed to February 2023.

“It became clear Musk was never going to take yes for an answer”, said Bill Savitt from Wachtell, representing Twitter. “Twitter can manage this and will manage this, but the company is faced with a substantial increase in risk … quite by Mr Musk’s design”.

Twitter filed to sue Elon Musk last week, arguing the tech billionaire is legally bound to carry out his $44bn acquisition of the social network, after the Tesla chief executive said he wanted to walk away from the deal – purporting that the number of bots on the platforms was misrepresented to him.

“The issue in this case is not – and it can’t be – how many false accounts there may be on Twitter”, Mr Savitt said. “The agreement doesn’t even mention spam or bots or false accounts. It could have, but it doesn’t.”

Mr Musk declined to do due diligence before making an offer for the company.

“We candidly suspect that Musk wants to keep Twitter under massive pressure to wear Twitter down, run out the clock or increase his leverage”, Mr Savitt concluded.

Andy Rossman of Quinn Emanuel, presenting for Elon Musk, said that “billions of actions on the platform need to be analysed”, doubling down on Mr Musk’s claims about bots and spam on the platform.

Mr Rossman also claimed that Twitter gave Mr Musk “obfuscation” and “delays”, adding that Twitter provided “a non-working replica of the fire hose that was made more difficult to use”.

In the complaint to the court, Twitter entered Mr Musk’s tweets into the documents – perhaps most notably, one where he replied to Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal’s explanation of bots on the platform with the poop emoji. But Mr Musk’s lawyer claimed that Twitter “didn’t claim that Musk’s tweets, which they now say are a breach of the merger agreement, were a breach, until after we issued a termination letter.”

A part of the deal included stipulations that Mr Musk would not disparage Twitter or its representatives. Twitter refused to confirm to The Independent on numerous occasions its understanding of the definition of that phrase.

“The idea … that Mr. Musk is trying to damage the company or effectively is damaging the company by sending out tweets, is preposterous. He has no interest in damaging the company. He has a far larger economic stake than the entire Twitter board”, Mr Rossman said.

He also claimed that more time is needed for Mr Musk’s team to properly analyse the data, saying that he had proposed a more “reasonable” schedule, because the case “dwarfs” others due to the amount of data needed to be looked at.

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