Insurers warned that claims management companies could exploit pubs that take advantage of 24-hour licensing.

AXA claims manager David Williams said: "In the US there have been court cases where people have sued the pub because it had allowed them to drink too much.

"The way some of our claims farming companies operate I would not be surprised if we are mimicking those cases here.

"With longer opening hours, should pub landlords be taking the responsibility for people drinking more?"

Moves for longer licensing could also pose health and safety risks for bar employees, he added. "For example, passive smoking claims could be made more extreme if people are working longer hours."

But the risk of malicious damage being caused by large groups of people pouring onto the streets at closing time could be greatly reduced by the move, said Williams.

If the law were passed, AXA would take steps to advise companies on how to reduce the risks involved, he concluded.