BP gulf disaster: Pension funds line up to sue oil giant in Texas
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Deputy business editor
Friday 04 July 2014
BP is facing a fresh round of costly litigation over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, with more than a dozen British and European pension funds, alongside other investors, being allowed for the first time to sue in a Texas court.
Pension funds for a number of London boroughs are among those suing over the collapse in the value of shares they held in BP, with even arch-rival Shell’s pension fund getting in on the action.
Texas is seen as a potential goldmine for people suing BP over the spill as the awards there will be far higher than any which would be granted in the UK High Court.
Initially, only investors who bought their BP shares on the New York Stock Exchange and other markets in the US were allowed to sue there. But after a recent series of rulings in Texas, UK cases can now be heard there under English law.
The class-action lawsuit specialist Pomerantz Law has assembled 32 major BP shareholders from around the world to sue for the losses incurred on the shares they bought before the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which led to 11 deaths and happened under the stewardship of then chief executive Tony Hayward.
Other investors are likely to join the suit, which is being prosecuted on a no-win-no-fee basis.
Pomerantz lawyer Jennifer Pafiti told the Evening Standard: “The fact that UK pension funds who bought stock on the London Stock Exchange can now participate in bringing claims in the US raises the prospect of recoveries where significant losses have been incurred.”
Each claimant will be suing for millions of pounds.
Recently lodged court filings seen by the Evening Standard show litigants include pension funds for the City of Westminster Council, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the London Borough of Redbridge and others including Lincolnshire County Council, Cumbria County Council and a host of individual claimants. Shell’s Pension Trust is also on the list of plaintiffs.
The key ruling that has led to Pomerantz now beginning to recruit new litigants on this side of the Atlantic also allows for continental European investors to sue in the US as well.
UK shareholders were always entitled to sue in Britain but have preferred the more-lucrative US courts instead.
BP was unavailable for comment.
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