The House of Lords will hear the Fairchild cases, it has decided following a hearing this morning.

Last week insurers for the defendants petitioned the House of Lords to discontinue the cases of Matthews, Fox and Fairchild, arguing that there had been an important event that would affect the outcome of the case.

The insurers had offered the three claimants the full amount they had originally requested in a bid to avoid a costly court battle, but one of the three refused the settlement because acceptance would mean the original Fairchild decision would hold. All three needed to agree for the settlements to go ahead.

In response, the House of Lords agreed to put the cases back to 7 May.

This morning the defendants argued again that there was no need to hear the case but the House of Lords decided the cases would be heard.

Meanwhile, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) had been working on an industry scheme to compensate mesothelioma claimants but this will be put on hold while the Lords hears the cases.

"This was a genuine attempt by insurers to speed up the payment of compensation and to avoid lengthy litigation," an ABI spokesman said.

"Nevertheless, we accept this ruling and hope that the law will be clarified as soon as possible."