Paddy Cosgrave is being sued for defamation by businessman Robert Quirke over a tweet posted on the Web Summit co-founder’s Twitter account last year.
Mr Quirke, who is the chief executive of Roqu Group, which has diverse interests in areas including media management and the organisation of festivals, claims he was identified in a tweet by Mr Cosgrave on March 20th, 2021, that he claims was clearly calculated to damage the plaintiff’s reputation.
Mr Cosgrave denies the claims, and in his defence alleges his statement was the truth.
It is alleged the tweet referred to a multi-million-euro deal involving Mr Quirke and Roqu and the HSE for the provision of ventilators from China.
In his action, Mr Quirke, with an address at Tigne Point, Sliema, in Malta, claims he and his businesses were defamed and damaged by the tweet, and seeks damages from Mr Cosgrave.
Following requests from Mr Quirke’s lawyers, Mr Cosgrave, it is alleged, failed to delete the tweet, or publish a statement to retract or stop repeating the allegations made about Mr Quirke and his business.
A pretrial issue in the case came before Mr Justice Garrett Simons in the High Court on Monday. The parties were before the judge arising out of a dispute over the legal costs of a motion brought in the proceedings.
Mr Quirke’s lawyers brought a motion seeking judgment in default of a defence being lodged on behalf Mr Cosgrave. The court heard the motion was brought after Mr Cosgrave’s defence to the defamation claim was lodged a day outside the prescribed legal time limits for the exchange of documents in proceedings.
Mr Quirke’s lawyers claimed Mr 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.
Mr Quirke’s lawyers said their client was entitled to bring a motion seeking judgment against Mr Cosgrave in the absence of a defence. While a defence was subsequently lodged, Mr 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.
Mr Cosgrave, represented by Tom Hogan SC, argued that no order should have been made regarding the costs of the motion seeking judgment.
Counsel said Mr Quirke’s solicitors were told by Mr 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 to 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 such as this. A late lodgment of a defence should incur a cost penalty of €750, the judge said. Instead, what had happened in this case, he 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 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 Mr Cosgrave all of his costs in regard to the plaintiff’s motion for judgment in default of defence, as well as the costs for Monday’s hearing.
Mr Quirke’s defamation claim will come before the court at a later date.