Genetics specialists are now settling liability disputes between insurers over subsidence.

Scientists from Newcastle University are using DNA fingerprinting to identify trees which are causing damage to houses, shops and offices.

Loss adjusters and engineers often find it difficult to identify exactly which tree is causing subsidence, especially when many trees of the same species are planted close together. The scientists have created a company, Bioprofiles, to settle disputes between rival insurance companies. The fingerprinting takes two weeks.

Keith Gaston, partner with Essex-based Gaston Whybrew Solicitors, said: " It is hoped that this technique will assist in resolving disputes at an earlier stage."