From early next year a change in the law will allow winning claimants to recover from their opponents not just legal costs - as now - but also any insurance premium paid and the 'success fee' payable to their lawyers for taking on a no-win no-fee case.

This can be as high as 100 per cent of the normal legal costs, entitling the lawyer, in other words, to be paid double. So stand by to pay out more in costs.

The good news for public service employers is that one of the few such claims to reach court has been rejected by the judge. This was because the employers, a local council, had reduced pressure on the claimant when he returned to work after a six-month stress-related absence.

Most well-publicised cases have been settled out-of-court. The latest case, Andrews v South Lakeland district council , a£100,000 claim, confirms the lessons from the first stress case to win in court in 1994. John Walker, a social worker, won because his employers didn't reduce his burdens when he returned to work after a breakdown.