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Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 3°C
Alamy Stock Photo File photo of Paddy Cosgrave at Web Summit 2022 in Lisbon earlier this month.
# Courts
Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave being sued for defamation over tweet
Businessman Robert Quirke claims that he and his businesses were defamed and damaged due to a tweet posted by Cosgrave in 2021.

WEB SUMMIT CO-founder Paddy Cosgrave is being sued for defamation by businessman Robert Quirke over a tweet posted on Cosgrave’s Twitter account in 2021.

Quirke, who is the CEO of Roqu Group, which has diverse interests in areas including media management and the organisation of festivals, claims that he was identified in a tweet by Cosgrave on 20 March 2021, which he claims was clearly calculated to damage the plaintiff’s reputation.

Cosgrave denies the claims and in his defence, claims that his statement was the truth.

It is alleged that the tweet referred to a multi-million-euro deal involving Quirke and Roqu and the HSE for the provision of ventilators from China.

In his action, Quirke, with an address Tigne Point, Sliema, in Malta claims that he and his businesses were defamed and damaged due to the tweet and seeks damages from Cosgrave.

Following requests from Quirke’s lawyers, Cosgrave, it is alleged, failed to delete the tweet, or publish a statement to retract, or stop repeating the allegations made about Quirke and his business.

A pretrial issue in the case came before Mr Justice Garrett Simons today.

The parties were before the judge arising out of a dispute over the legal costs of a motion brought in the proceedings.

Quirke’s lawyers had brought a motion seeking judgement in default of a defence being lodged on behalf Cosgrave.

The court heard that the motion was brought after Cosgrave’s defence to the defamation claim was lodged a day outside the prescribed legal time limits for the exchange of documents in proceedings.

Quirke’s lawyers claimed that Cosgrave’s lawyers had delayed in responding to the claim and had lodged their defence outside of the prescribed time limits allowed by the courts.

Quirke’s lawyers said that their client was entitled to bring a motion seeking judgement against Cosgrave in the absence of a defence.

While a defence was subsequently lodged, Quirke was entitled to either the costs of bringing his motion, or that the costs be adjourned to the full hearing of the defamation claim.

Cosgrave, represented by Tom Hogan SC, argued that no order should have been made regarding the costs of the motion seeking judgement.

Counsel said that Quirke’s solicitors were told by Cosgrave’s lawyers that the filing of defence had been delayed, and that it would be lodged a day outside of the prescribed time.

It was not reasonable counsel submitted for an order for costs should be made against his client, who he said required time to make a full defence in the defamation action.

Mr Justice Simons said that the rules of court had been streamlined to help avoid situations like this.

A late lodgement of a defence should incur a cost penalty of €750, the judge said.

Instead, what had happened in this case, the judge said, was that no agreement had been reached regarding the costs resulting in the matter taking up valuable court time, resulting in costs many multiples of that figure.

While there was blame on both sides, the judge said it was his view that the plaintiff was being “intransigent and unreasonable” in seeking an order for costs, or that they be reserved pending the outcome of the full hearing.

Such an application was “misconceived,” the judge added.

He awarded Cosgrave all of his costs in regard to the plaintiff’s motion for judgement in default of defence, as well as the costs for today’s hearing.

Quirke’s defamation claim will come before the court at a later date.

Author
Aodhan O Faolain