Paddy Cosgrave being sued by businessman over tweet

CEO of Roqu Group Robert Quirke claims tweet by the Web Summit co-founder in 2021 was clearly calculated to damage his reputation
Paddy Cosgrave being sued by businessman over tweet

Paddy Cosgrave at the Web Summit earlier this month in Lisbon, Portugal. Picture: Getty Images

Web summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave is being sued for defamation by businessman Robert Quirke over a tweet posted on Mr Cosgrave's twitter account in 2021.

Mr Quirke, 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 Mr Cosgrave on March 20, 2021, that was clearly calculated to damage his reputation.

Mr 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 Mr Quirke's firm Roqu and the HSE for the provision of ventilators from China.

In his action, Mr Quirke, with an address Tigne Point, Sliema, Malta, claims that he and his businesses were defamed and damaged by the tweet and he is seeking 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 businesses.

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

Dispute over legal costs

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 had brought a motion seeking judgment in default of a defence being lodged on behalf Mr Cosgrave.

The court heard that 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 who claimed that 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 that 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.

Filing of defence was delayed

Counsel said that 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 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 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 judgement 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.

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