Client Highlight: BP


S&C plays a pivotal role in obtaining a global BP government settlement.

Sullivan & Cromwell represented BP plc in its historic global $18.7 billion settlement with government authorities over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The settlement establishes the framework for global resolutions of all federal, state and local government environmental and economic damage claims, and marks the largest settlement ever involving a single entity.

BP relied on S&C lawyers for their negotiation skills and established credibility with regulators in helping to reach this settlement and move forward with greater certainty. Given the scope and complexity of this matter, there were no prior settlements that could be used as a precedent. Moreover, the negotiations required a delicate balancing of the competing interests of federal and state stakeholders.

S&C, known for its multidisciplinary and generalist approach to resolving clients’ problems, was further entrusted by BP to represent the company in shareholder litigations that exposed the company to multibillion-dollar claims. S&C represented BP in follow-on securities fraud and derivative class actions arising from the Deepwater Horizon spill. The S&C team secured a dismissal of all of the derivative litigation and persuaded the court in the securities class action to dismiss the class-action claims of non-U.S. shareholders and deny class certification to the longer of two proposed classes—dramatically reducing the potential exposure for BP. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the denial of class certification.