BP share price falls as UK intervenes in legal battle over oil spill payouts

Sarah Spickernell
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The UK government says BP shouldn't have to pay those unaffected by the spill (Source: Getty)
BP's share price fell to 462p this morning, despite news the UK government is planning to intervene in the US' attempt to order huge payouts for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
In a filing with the US Supreme Court, the government said BP had “gone to great lengths to restore the Gulf Coast”, but that large payouts were being demanded of the oil and gas company for businesses and individuals not affected by the spill.
On Friday the US court ruled that under the Clean Water Act, the firm could face penalties of up to $18bn (£11bn) for its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It described BP as “grossly negligent” in the Deepwater Horizon explosion, which resulted in millions of barrels of oil flooding the water.
So far, BP has set aside just $3.5bn for the fines. Following the court's announcement last week, shares plunged six per cent and wiped £5.5bn off the company's value.
The government's filings said the court's decision raises “grave international comity concerns”, since the treatment of BP is likely to diminish other countries' confidence in the US as being able to fairly resolve disputes, reducing the “trust necessary for international commerce”.
Known as “amicus briefs”, the filings reiterated warnings already made by business groups, who say the rulings against BP could make the US a less attractive investment prospect. Trade between the UK and the US is worth $200bn a year and British companies are the largest foreign investors in the US, accounting for 17 per cent of all foreign direct investment
By intervening, the government hopes to persuade the Supreme Court to lower the compensation BP is forced to pay.

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