BY SELINA WILLIAMS
LONDON -- BP has written to lawyers of claimants arising
from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the United States
Gulf of Mexico, warning them that BP could seek to recover some
of the payments if they prevail in a legal appeal, a spokesman
BP has also taken out full page advertisements in the main
United States newspapers, including the New York Times
and the Wall Street Journal, saying that the
interpretation of the settlement they agreed last year has
resulted in payments to businesses that didn't suffer losses
from the oil spill.
"Trial lawyers and some politicians are attempting to
capitalize on this misinterpretation by encouraging the
submission of thousands of claims for inflated losses, or
losses that do not even exist," BP said in the
A BP spokesman said, "The letters we are sending put
claimants' lawyers on notice that, should we prevail on our
appeal, BP will seek to recover payments to which claimants are
not legally entitled."
Last year, BP agreed a settlement with the plaintiffs'
steering committee, a group representing individuals with
economic, property or medical damage claims. The settlement was
originally estimated at $7.8 billion.
But the costs have escalated because average payments for
business economic loss claims have been higher than
In April, BP said that the total estimated cost of the PSC
settlement will be "significantly higher" than its current
estimate of $8.2 billion because business economic loss claims
not yet received or processed are not reflected in the estimate
and the average payments per claim so far are higher than
The latest escalation in the cost of the disaster, which
killed 11 men and triggered the worst offshore oil spill in
United States history, comes as the company is embroiled in a
civil trial to determine environmental fines that could total
as much as $17.6 billion.
BP has previously challenged the spill claim fund's process
for handing out money, saying in court filings that the
administrator has approved "fictitious awards" to some
businesses and overestimated the losses of many claimants.
The case is now being heard by the Fifth Circuit court of
appeals in New Orleans, with a hearing scheduled for July.
A federal judge denied BP's plea to halt payments from the
fund in April.
A BP spokesman said that although the company was actively
litigating the payments by the claims program "for inflated and
even fictitious losses", it remained fully committed to paying
legitimate claims due to the accident.
BP said in the advertisement that ran in the papers that it
has already paid out over $25 billion in response, including
clean up and restoration costs and in payments on claims made
by individuals, businesses and governments for the 2010
BP has spent or provisioned more than $40 billion for the
Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Last week, BP called for an independent investigation of the
process used to compensate business for the losses, following
reports that a lawyer working for the claims administrator had
been suspended for alleged misconduct.
The company was responding to an Associated Press report,
which said that a lawyer working for the court appointed
administrator had been accused of collecting a portion of
settlement payments referred to a New Orleans law firm.
Dow Jones Newswires