Claims made to the miners' compensation scheme are to be offered a fast-track resolution process to speed up the claims process.

But the ruling made by Mr Justice Turner only applies to the cases of living claimants. Most of the claims made to the compensation fund are from the families of deceased miners.

The fast-track payments will be made on the basis of miners' spirometry tests, where initial results show "very low levels of lung disease". Based on the results, claims will be split into four bands.

Miners more seriously affected, and those medically unable to complete the test, will receive a full medical assessment. The Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) will then calculate the offers for each band.

Miners would have the right to reject the offer made under the fast-track system, said the DTI.

The ruling has received support from Coal Health Minister Nigel Griffiths, and lead scheme solicitor Hugh James partner Peter Evans.

Evans said the fast-track scheme was bound to make a difference in the speed of claim resolution, but added: "If substantial improvements are to be made, we must deal with the deceased claims, which make up the majority."

Evans said a review of how the claims from the deceased were made would be presented to Mr Justice Turner on 16-17 November.

Evans said arguments would be presented as to whether there was a correlation between miners' death certificates and a full examination of claim documentation including an opinion from a respiratory specialist, as to the extent of the respiratory illness.

If there is a strong correlation, Evans said the court would look at whether the awards could be based on the data contained in death certificates, which would help speed up the claims process.