Insurers are expected to receive a favourable judgment in the test case on pleural plaques.

Industry sources have indicated that the amount paid by insurers for pleural plaques claims are expected to be heavily reduced.

A judgment could be handed down as early as this week.

A high court hearing has been called for today, where parties involved in the case have indicated they wish to make submissions before judgment is handed

down. The final judgment on the case may be given at this time.

The insurance industry fears the judgment could pave the way for liability for other conditions where symptoms are not present.

Pleural plaques are a pathological change in the pleural sack of the lungs caused by asbestos exposure.

This change is a marker of asbestos exposure but causes no symptoms and does not give rise to any other asbestos related conditions.

Under the existing rules, successful pleural plaques claimants are typically awarded £5,000 in provisional damages, with the right to return to court and seek further compensation if they develop another asbestos-related disease.

Alternatively, claimants can accept a final settlement of approximately £10,000 as a full and final settlement.

Ten test cases have been brought by defendant insurers Norwich Union, Zurich, Iron Trades, and British Ship Builders, in cases which has been running since November 2004.