Twitter won the first stage in its legal showdown with Elon Musk, after a US judge agreed to its request to fast track its lawsuit against its former suitor.

Elon Musk has been opposing Twitter’s request to fast-track a trial, over his attempt to terminate the $44 billion acquisition deal he signed for the social media firm.

Twitter had sued Elon Musk last week, and the social media platform had requested the trial begin in September this year because the merger agreement with Musk terminates on 25 October.

Image credit: SpaceX

Trial set

But Musk argued that his team required substantial time for discovery and requested a trial date on or after 13 February 2023, to allow for an extensive investigation into his claims that Twitter has misrepresented the number of fake or spam accounts.

Twitter had in April this year said that less than 5 percent of Twitter users are spam or fake accounts.

Musk however believes the true figure of fake or bot accounts is closer to 20 percent or more.

But now Reuters has reported that a Delaware judge ruled on Tuesday that Twitter deserved a quick resolution of the deal’s uncertainty, and scheduled the trial to begin in October, in a blow to Elon Musk and his legal team.

Twitter had argued that delaying the trial into the next year could threaten deal financing.

Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of the Court of Chancery in Delaware said on Tuesday that the company deserved a swift decision on its claims, Reuters reported.

“The reality is delay threatens irreparable harm to the sellers,” she said, referring to Twitter.

McCormick asked the parties to work out the schedule for the trial, which she said would last five days.

An attorney for Musk, did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Billion dollar breakup?

“We are pleased that the court agreed to expedite this trial,” a Twitter spokesperson reportedly said.

Twitter wants Chancellor McCormick to order Musk to complete the deal at the agreed price of $54.20 per share.

Twitter had repeatedly warned Elon Musk it would enforce the deal he signed, and insisted his justifications of Twitter’s material breaches of the deal, were “false and misleading representations” statements.

In the agreement he signed with Twitter, Musk can only back out if something major happens to Twitter’s business, and there is doubt that Twitter’s bot issue may be enough of a justification.

Twitter can demand the $1 billion (£836m) contractual breakup fee from Musk, if he reneged on the agreement.

This huge amount of money however means that Musk is likely to vigorously contend the Twitter lawsuit.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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