The BP Deepwater Horizon Property & Economic Damages Settlement exceeds 1,000 pages and includes 27 separate exhibits. The Agreement’s negotiators attempted to address every possible scenario when devising causation and compensation protocols, determining which entities to exclude from eligibility, who would enjoy preferable “tourism” treatment, what type of documentation would be required, what geographic locations would be eligible, and a myriad of other issues. Alas, no amount of intense attention to detail could anticipate every situation, and many issues remained (and remain) unresolved, 2.5 years later.
In an effort to properly interpret and apply the Settlement Agreement, the Claims Administrator was tasked with issuing policies to effectuate same. To-date, over 500 such interpretive policies have been published by the Claims Administrator.
The Claims Administrator presents such policy rules to Class Counsel and BP (the “Parties”) for their positions before they become final and are used in claims review. If a Party does not agree with a particular policy, the Party may obtain review of it by Judge Barbier. Policies which are not expressly agreed upon by the parties or which have not been approved by Judge Barbier, are not binding on BP claims appeal panelists.
Of the 500 or so policies, just over 20 are binding on appeal panelists (categories 1 & 2 above). That said, while the vast majority are not binding, in practice the panelists tend to give great deference to the policies enacted by the Claims Administrator.