Insurers facing multi-million pound claims from the Buncefield fuel depot explosion are looking to bring a class action against owners Texaco and Total to recoup some of their losses.

David Williams, claims director at AXA, said: "We have been in discussions with other insurers about a group action. Anything that cuts the number of lawyers is a good thing."

Williams said insurers would be looking to use a long-standing legal precedent to argue the two oil companies have strict liability for the explosion. He said they would argue the oil companies made a "non-natural use" of the land which led to foreseeable and avoidable problems.

AXA, which is understood to have £46m worth of claims outstanding, said it would deal with most claims in full before a case was brought and then seek to claim back the losses.

Most insurers will also have taken out a degree of reinsurance.