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UK schemes encouraged to sue BP for billions

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UK pension funds should sue BP for billions of pounds in compensation through the Texas courts for negligence in the run-up to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a US law firm argues.

The explosion at the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010 caused an environmental disaster that prompted BP’s stock price to plummet nearly 50% within a matter of weeks, in turn wiping billions from UK pension funds balance sheets.

Pomerantz Haudek Grossman & Gross LLP said schemes with sizeable holdings in BP that were purchased on the London Stock Exchange between January 16, 2007 and May 28, 2010 could each recover millions of pounds in compensation.

Pomerantz partner Marc Gross said schemes had a fiduciary duty to pursue claims against BP.

“We think they have a fiduciary duty to pursue these claims particularly in circumstances where the attorneys will take the claims on a contingency basis,” said Gross.

“Given the potential benefits and the minimum cost, it would seem to us that it would be very important for them to be pursuing this particularly to hold a corporation accountable,” he added.

Gross said schemes had “expressed interest” in pursuing claims and representatives from the law firm will be flying to the UK to hold further discussions later this month.

A US Supreme Court ruling Morrison v. National Australia Bank limited US federal law remedies to purchases on US registered stock exchanges, meaning investors who purchased BP shares on the LSE could not pursue claims against the oil giant in the US.

But Gross said UK pension funds could instead use the Texas courts to seek compensation for misconduct or fraud through individual cases.

“It is our opinion that meritorious claims can be asserted on behalf of UK pension schemes for fraud, negligent misrepresentation and aiding and abetting under the state law, with BP failing to reform after two major accidents in 2005 and 2006, despite conducting an extensive internal investigation,” Gross added.

He warned schemes faced a “race against the clock” for negligence claims which must be filed in Texas by 28 May when the statute of limitations expires.