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BP Business Economic Loss Claim Appeal 2017-1583: Law Firm’s Revenue Properly Reallocated Under Professional Services Methodology

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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

BP appeals a BEL award of $127,062.85, pre-RTP to a law firm in Tampa, Florida(Zone D). After matching criteria were triggered, the Professional Services Methodology was used to achieve sufficient matching. On appeal, BP argues that the vendor accountants improperly reallocated revenues from Claimant’s contingency fee cases by incorrectly assuming the dates upon which each case was concluded. According to BP, this resulted in new anomalies in the financials which allowed Claimant to satisfy causation which it would otherwise have failed.
BP does not take issue with the program accountant’s selection of the Professional Services Methodology to correct matching issues. The basis of its argument is that in
reallocating revenues over the life of the contingency fee engagements, the accountant erroneously assumed that the end date of each case was the date when Claimant received payment. BP argues that the revenue was actually received and recorded later than the completion date of the engagements. This resulted in the misallocation of revenue and expenses which allowed the Claimant to pass causation.
Claimant responds by initially pointing out that its practice involves bankruptcy and mortgage foreclosures with relatively few contingency fee cases. Hence, most of Claimant’s work was billed and paid within a few days of the conclusion of the engagement. Claimant agrees that the Professional Services Methodology requires that revenue be reallocated on a straight line basis over the life of the engagement. However, Claimant adds that the vast majority of its cases were not contingency cases. Instead, most of its cases relate to bankruptcy, foreclosures and other cases that extend over several months. Thus, when the program accountant requested a summary of engagements, only cases that involved long term (several months) engagements were included. Claimant also points out that the program accountant adjusted the start and end dates from the summary which were used in the reallocation. Claimant therefore argues that there was no error in the application of the
Professional Services Methodology.
De novo review discloses no basis for disturbing the approach taken by the program accountant in reallocating the Claimant’s revenue. The record demonstrates that the accountant went into considerable depth and detail in application of the Professional Services Methodology. No misapplication of Policy 495 has been shown. Accordingly, BP’s appealis denied and Claimant’s Final Proposal is selected.

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