January 5, 2012 / 3:12 AM / 7 years ago

BP fund resumes payments to spill victims

(Reuters) - BP’s (BP.L) $20 billion oil spill fund said it had resumed payments to eligible victims on Wednesday after receiving clarification from a U.S. district court regarding an escrow account set up to cover certain legal expenses incurred by the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana had earlier asked the fund called the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) to pay into a court supervised escrow account 6 percent of the gross settlement amount. The money from the escrow account would be used to meet certain legal expenses incurred by the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

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

GCCF had halted payments to spill victims on Tuesday pending court clarification.

On Wednesday, the court clarified that the 6 percent charge would be applicable only to payments made to victims after December 30 and not on or before that date.

After receiving the clarification, GCCF said in a notice posted on its website that it will resume payment to eligible claimants effective immediately.

The fund, which was set up following the April 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has paid $6.14 billion to individuals and businesses as of December 1. Including payments to governments for advances and claims, the fund has paid or approved for payment a total of $7.71 billion, according to a report on the BP website.

Reporting by Sakthi Prasad; Editing by Bernard Orr

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