Elon Musk’s bid to delay Twitter’s lawsuit against him until 2023 has been rejected by a US judge who granted the social media giant a fast-track trial.
The world’s richest man said he was pulling out of a deal this month to buy the tech firm for $44bn (£36.6bn), and the company is suing him to try to force him to carry out his earlier promise in April to acquire it.
A judge in Delaware has now set a trial for this October, citing the “cloud of uncertainty” over the social platform.
Twitter was pushing for the court case to be heard in September because it said the ongoing dispute was hurting its business.
But Musk‘s team had sought to put it off until early next year because of how complex the case is.
Chancellor Kathaleen St Jude McCormick, the head judge of Delaware’s Court of Chancery, said: “Delay threatens irreparable harm. The longer the delay, the greater the risk.”
The Tesla and SpaceX boss had pledged to pay $54.20 a share for Twitter, but told the company in July he wanted to back out of the agreement.
“It’s attempted sabotage. He’s doing his best to run Twitter down,” said William Savitt, a lawyer for the social media company.
The tycoon claims the firm failed to provide him with enough information concerning the number of fake – spam bot – Twitter accounts.
And he says it breached its obligations by sacking top managers and laying off a significant number of workers.
Musk’s team expects more information about the bot numbers to come out in the trial court discovery process, when both sides must hand over evidence.
‘Musk trying to wriggle out of deal’
Twitter argues Musk is trying to back out because he agreed to pay 38% above Twitter’s stock price just before the stock market fell.
And shares of electric car maker Tesla, where most of his personal wealth is, lost more than $100bn of their value.
“He’s banking on wriggling out of the deal he signed,” Mr Savitt said.
But Musk’s lawyer Andrew Rossman claims it is “preposterous” to suggest the Tesla chief executive is attempting to damage Twitter.
He said the businessman “has no interest in damaging the company”.