One of the first periodic payment orders has been imposed by Leeds High Court, despite the fact that neither party requested it.

The move demonstrates that the courts will use their new powers to award structured settlements rather than lump sum awards, according to experts.

Courts have only been able to make periodic payment orders since 1 April, following the introduction of the Courts Act.

The orders pose difficulties for insurers, as it is difficult for them to estimate how much the claims payments will be over the lifetime of the claimant.

In the Leeds case, the judge ordered the defendant to pay £50,000 a year index-linked, rising to £61,000 a year in October 2009, payable for the rest of the claimant's life.

A spokesman for Frenkel Topping, the financial consultancy firm involved in the case, said: "The judge felt that this was in the claimant's best interests, despite the fact that neither the claimant nor the defendant had indicated that this was their preferred method of settlement.

"While we are still only in the first month of periodic payments, it is becoming abundantly clear that the courts are not likely to pay mere lip-service to this issue," he added.

AXA claims technical manager for large loss, Graham Plumb, said: "The case shows that both parties need to express an opinion rapidly on periodic payments or they could be faced with [an order] they don't want."