Today, BP announced that it will appoint an Independent Mediator to review and assist in the claims process for the spill associated with the exploratory well that was being drilled by the Transocean Deepwater Horizon in Mississippi Canyon, Block 252.
BP has said consistently that it will pay legitimate claims for loss and damage caused by the spill. BP remains fully committed to responding to and paying claims promptly. To date, more than 26,000 claims already have been submitted, resulting in payments exceeding $36 million.
"We are absolutely committed to a simple, fair claims process that gets funds to people who have been hurt by this disaster as quickly as possible," said BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward. "We have opened claims offices across the region, and will make every effort to reach everyone who has a legitimate claim. And we will appoint an independent mediator so that we have as fair a process as possible for everyone in the Gulf region."
BP has established the claims process in accordance with the requirements of the Oil Pollution Act ("OPA"), which allows claimants to make a claim against BP as a designated responsible party. If a claim is not resolved and paid within 90 days, claimants can submit a claim against the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, and ultimately bring suit.
BP will work to pay all legitimate claims as quickly as possible. Appointing an Independent Mediator is a recognized practice to strengthen claims processes and resolve disputes. BP is working to appoint the best possible person to fill this important role.
In those cases in which a claimant and BP cannot agree on resolution of a claim, the claimant can seek review from the Independent Mediator. The Independent Mediator then will make an advisory decision on the claim.
The Mediator's independence will be ensured by a strict set of rules surrounding the position. The Mediator will have access to his or her own legal counsel and will be free to disagree with BP's position.
In addition to evaluating individual claims, the Independent Mediator also will undertake an independent evaluation of BP's claims process and the approach taken to substantiate claims.
Individual and business claimants may file a claim in one of three ways: