A High Court judge has criticised the protracted pace of a defamation case by the businessman Declan Ganley against RTÉ over a report broadcast in 2008.

Mr Justice Max Barrett said there were concerns about the "chilling effect for free speech" if defamation proceedings were to become enormously lengthy and costly affairs.

The judge made his comments after delivering judgment in a number of pre-trial applications by Mr Ganley and RTÉ.

The broadcaster has now been given permission to cross examine Mr Ganley about issues relating to his discovery of documents.

The judge said that cross examination should take place in the current legal term because of what he described as the undesirable pace of the proceedings.

The judge said it was at its mildest undesirable that a claim of defamation arising from a broadcast in November 2008 should not yet have proceeded to trial.

Judge Barrett said it was not fair on the person claiming to have been defamed, if they were correct, to have their name stand tarnished for almost a decade.

It was also not fair on a journalist if they had done nothing wrong to be mired in defamation proceedings for such a protracted period, he said.

He said "there have to be and are concerns as to the chilling effect for free speech, a right of such profound significance, if defamation proceedings are generally to become enormously lengthy and hence enormously costly affairs."

He agreed to adjourn the case for two weeks but said he intends to set a date for the cross examination of Mr Ganley during the current law term.

Mr Ganley claims he was defamed in a November 2008 edition of Prime Time concerning his business affairs. He brought defamation proceedings in 2012.

RTÉ denies the claim and had sought to have his case dismissed.

In his application Declan Ganley asked the High Court to strike out part of RTÉ's defence and to have the broadcaster comply with certain discovery orders made by the High Court.

The judge refused his application to strike out aspects of the defence but ordered RTÉ to comply with certain orders of discovery.

He also granted RTÉ an order allowing it to cross examine Declan Ganley about issues arising from his discovery of documents in the case.

The judge said he was allowing this "given the deficiencies that appear from the factual evidence before the court to exist in Mr Ganley's discovery so far".