The 3,096 investors, or names, sued the agents who put them on syndicates in the insurance market run by the Gooda Walker group. Mr Justice Phillips agreed that the huge losses run up by these syndicates after disasters such as the Piper Alpha explosion were the result of negligence and incompetence.
Michael Deeny, chairman of the action group for Gooda Walker names, said the strain of huge losses had helped to drive half a dozen to suicide.
The defendants have a month to decide whether to appeal. If they do not, the parties will have to agree on the exact amount of the award, which the names estimate at pounds 504m - by far the largest award in the English courts.
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