The Callery v Gray and Sarwar v Alam cases will have come as no surprise to the government. Top brass apparently knew there would be a procession of cases passing through the courts to clarify the no win, no fee legislation.

Martin Bruffell, former president of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (Foil), told a packed law conference that when the legislation was about to be introduced, the minister responsible, Geoff Hoon, admitted the government knew it had got it all wrong.

But the government wanted the proposals brought in anyway and knew the lawyers would have to resort to the courts to sort out minor details such as their own success fees.