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BP Business Economic Loss Claim Appeal 2017-1433: Professional Services Methodology Correct for Accounting Firm

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The following is an Appeal Panel Decision issued pursuant to Section 6 of the BP Deepwater Horizon Economic & Property Damages Settlement Agreement and the Rules Governing the BP Appeals Process. Links may have been added to assist the reader. The original decision may be found here, as well as a glossary of BP Settlement terms

Claimant, an accounting firm in Flowood, Mississippi, appeals the denial of its BEL claim on the basis it failed to satisfy the causation requirements of Exhibit 4B of the Settlement Agreement. Claimant asserts the Settlement Program(SP), in applying the Professional Services methodology,wrongfully reallocated a portion of October 2011 gross revenues to the months of August 2011 ad September 2011, causing claimant not to fulfill the 10% upturn of income for the benchmark period of October through December 2011.Claimant argues all the income reported in October 2011 was from work actually performed in October 2011. Claimant contends the SP case summary template is misleading and unclear on how claims will be processed.Claimant also argues it was not given opportunity to have its claim submitted to the Neutrals for review.
BP posits the protocol of policy 495 was properly applied and followed and that the SP had a basis to reallocate revenue in light of claimant’s financial submissions. A review of the record discloses claimant is an accounting firm with a majority of clients whose undertakings involve short-term engagements;and revenues are recognized in the period when earned. Claimant also has clients with long-term engagements whose work is performed over a longer period of time. In such instances,the SP utilized the Professional Services methodology to allocate the revenue recognized from the fee income over the life of each such engagements. Since claimant did not break down in its records the work performed on an hourly basis,the straight line method was utilized for these engagements. For calculation purposes,the SP used the first month for all case start dates and the end of the month for all case end dates.
In this regard, claimant takes issue with the case summary template and how “case start” and “case end” dates are measured. “Case Start” date on the template is defined as the “date that work on an engagement began or an engagement was opened”. For “Case End” date it is defined as the “date that work on an engagement was completed or engagement was closed.” Claimant argues these periods are too broad and should be confined or restricted to the period when work was actually performed. Thus,as to the one engagement the subject of the challenged reallocation,claimant says all work was performed in October 2011 when the client was  charged.
Claimant contends that none of these revenues should be reallocated to earlier periods. The SP reallocated revenues because records showed the client engagement began or was opened on August 10,2011, and concluded on October 20,2011. This panelist concludes this reallocation is consistent with the application of the Professional Services methodology in other claims and decisions,and is not violative of policy 495. The template is not misleading or vague and its terms were interpreted and applied in a correct manner.
Finally,there is no basis for claimant’s argument that the SP should have allowed this claim to be reviewed by the Neutrals. This assignment of error is not a cognizable issue for review under the appeal process established by the Settlement Agreement. Accordingly, the decision of the Claims Administrator is affirmed and the appeal of claimant is denied.

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