Judge orders temporary halt to oil spill payments

GULF OF MEXICO — Damage payments from the compensation fund for BP’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have been stopped temporarily because of a court order requiring a portion of settlement funds to be set aside to pay hundreds of lawyers working on behalf of claimants.

On Tuesday, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, an entity set up to handle claims against BP, said payments would be halted to comply with a Dec. 28 order by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier requiring 6 percent of payments go to plaintiffs’ lawyers.

A statement from the claims facility said the fund needs time to reformulate payments and comply with the order.

Barbier’s ruling throws a new wrinkle into a legal battle over fees and compensation.

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