A US judge ordered that Twitter’s lawsuit against Elon Musk be heard in October in a blow to the world’s richest man who asked for a delay.
Mr Musk walked away from his $44bn (£36bn) bid to buy Twitter earlier in July, prompting the company to sue him.
Twitter expects the court to order Mr Musk to complete the acquisition at an agreed price of $54.20 per share. The tech billionaire has accused Twitter of hiding information about fake accounts.
His legal team has called for a trial early next year because of its complications, but Twitter asked for a September date. On Tuesday, a judge in the state of Delaware agreed with the company and said delaying the trial would cast a “cloud of uncertainty”.
“Delay threatens irreparable harm,” Chancellor Kathaleen St Jude McCormick said. “The longer the delay, the greater the risk.” The lawsuit accused Mr Musk of a “long list” of violations ahead of the potential merger and argued that he had “cast a pall” over the company.
At the hearing on Tuesday, Twitter’s lead counsel William Savitt said the ongoing uncertainty about whether the takeover would go forward or not “inflicts harm on Twitter every day”.
Mr Musk’s lawyer Andrew Rossman argued that he is one of Twitter’s most influential shareholders. He said the case should be heard next year on a “sensible” schedule that would give both sides time to prepare.
Since Mr Musk began questioning the number of fake and spam accounts on Twitter’s platform in May, the company has seen its share prices drop from as high as $50 per share.
The company’s shares currently stand at about $39.45 — well below the $54.20 per share at which it expects to close the merger.
A self-described “free speech absolutist”, Mr Musk vowed to ease content restrictions if he owned the company. He called on the company to be more open about how Tweets are presented to users and how Tweets are promoted to a larger audience.