The UK government says BP is being unfairly required to compensate claimants unaffected by the spill

UK government backs BP over US legal rulings

The British government has urged the US Supreme Court to review appeals court rulings against BP over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.

The 2010 incident in the Gulf of Mexico produced one of the largest class actions in American history, but the London-based oil and gas company is appealing lower court decisions within the last year that it believes wrongly require it to compensate claimants who suffered no injuries from the spill.

In a friend of court brief, the UK government said lower court rulings raise grave international concerns by undermining confidence in the "vigorous and fair resolution of disputes."

The filing said BP, which has "gone to great lengths to restore the Gulf Coast", was now being required to pay large sums to others who were not injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The British government said treatment meted out to BP undermined the fairness and trust necessary for international commerce.

The USA and Britain conduct more than $200bn in trade each year, and UK businesses are responsible for 17 per cent of all foreign direct investment in the US, according to the filing.

In a separate statement, BP said the government's petition emphasizes the importance of fair and consistent application of law.

BP argued that the Fifth Circuit's decisions, if allowed to stand, will fundamentally alter class action law and discourage companies from settling complex cases. It also said the decisions will likely discourage companies from investing in the US if companies are exposed to liability for losses they did not cause.

Separately, a Louisiana court ruled last week that BP was "grossly negligent" and "reckless" in the spill, a move that could add nearly $18bn (£11bn) in fines to more than $42bn in charges. BP said it would appeal that ruling.

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