The trial between Elon Musk and Twitter has just been announced by a judge.
The world’s richest man and the social media company will be in court for five days between 17 October and 21 October.
The trial will take place in Delaware Court of Chancery.
Twitter is trying to force the billionaire to make good on his April promise to buy the company for $44bn (£37bn).
The company wanted the billionaire to be tried in court at the earliest possible date – which would have been in September – while Mr Musk wanted the trial in February 2023.
Mr Musk leaving the deal would be “invalid and wrongful”, Twitter says, claiming that Mr Musk “apparently believes that he – unlike every other party subject to Delaware contract law – is free to change his mind, trash the company, disrupt its operations, destroy stockholder value, and walk away”.
Twitter filed to sue Mr Musk earlier this month, arguing the tech billionaire is legally bound to carry out the purchase despite claims from the Tesla chief executive that the number of bots on the platforms was misrepresented to him and therefore he is within his rights to walk away from the deal.
“Twitter has failed or refused to provide this information. Sometimes Twitter has ignored Mr Musk’s requests, sometimes it has rejected them for reasons that appear to be unjustified, and sometimes it has claimed to comply while giving Mr Musk incomplete or unusable information,” Mr Musk’s attorney said in a letter to the Twitter board.
Twitter subsequently filed with the Delaware Chancery Court. Mr Musk replied to the news via a tweet: “Oh the irony lol”.
It is unclear who will come out victorious in this case, but if Mr Musk loses it seems unlikely that he will be able simply to walk away from the deal without paying a penalty.
Should Mr Musk refuse to buy Twitter despite being ordered to by a judge, he could be held “in contempt and set a daily fine until he complies”, Brian Quinn, a Boston College law professor who teaches about the law relating to mergers and acquisitions, told Bloomberg. “For Musk, that would have to be a rather large number.”
Tesla, which is owned by Mr Musk, is also a Delaware corporation – and as such could open the unprecedented scenario in which the court would go after Mr Musk’s stock options.