Go Big or Go Home
A Report of BP Shareholders and BP Subsidiaries –
May 24, 2010 … WILMINGTON Delaware (Reuters) – Shareholders have sued the board of BP Plc (BP.L
Jun 18, 2010 … At least one UK institutional investor likely to be named as plaintiff, as British institutions attempt to share in payout.
American lawyers have already filed more than 180 lawsuits related to the spill, mostly against the company over the environmental and economic damage caused across the region.
BP shareholders – the majority of them based outside the more litigious US – have been slower to table their own claims.
But Robert Schachter, partner at Zwerling, Schachter & Zwerling, said that several British institutional investors had contacted him about joining the class action his New York-based firm recently filed. He said he was confident that at least one British investor would be named as a plaintiff next month in order to make it more likely that British institutions would share in any payout.
However, BP could challenge the right of British and other non-US investors to recover damages through the US courts.
Lawyers will allege that BP’s management, led by its chief executive, Tony Hayward, misrepresented the company’s true safety record, thereby artificially inflating its share price. When Hayward took over in 2007, he promised to focus “like a laser” on safety after the 2005 explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery, which killed 15 workers, and the oil spill from a BP-owned Alaska pipeline in 2006.
But US politicians have been hearing evidence that BP engineers did not follow correct drilling procedures before the Gulf of Mexico explosion on 20 April. Hayward admitted last month that the company did not have a proper plan in place to deal with such an accident.
Camilo Salas, a New Orleans-based attorney, said that the faulty well, which was drilled for exploration purposes, should now be classified as a production well and BP stripped of its licence to operate the lease. This could lead to a further legal battle over the ownership of what is likely to be a huge oil find.
BP has beefed up its in-house legal department by hiring the Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis, one of the largest corporate law firms in the US.
BP’s British shareholders to join US class actions over oil spill
- guardian.co.uk, Friday 18 June 2010 19.42 BST