BP halts spill fund over a court order

BP’s $20bn (£12.8bn) oil spill fund has halted payments to eligible victims until a US federal court clarifies an order issued in December, according to a notice posted on the fund’s website.

The court in Louisiana overseeing spill lawsuits had asked the fund, called the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, to pay into a court supervised escrow account six per cent of the gross settlement amount.

The funds from the escrow account would be used to meet certain legal expenses incurred by the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

In a letter to the court, a lawyer for the fund, David Pitofsky, asked the court to clarify whether the ruling would mean that those who have already been paid by GCCF on or after 7 November should be asked to give some of the money back.

From 30 December, the GCCF has temporarily frozen all payments to claimants, BP said.

The fund, which was set up following the April 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has paid $6.14bn to individuals and businesses.