The findings, due to be outlined in a report published by the Centre for Policy Studies this spring, showed that the surge is partly due to a sharp increase in the number of claims by police officers, nurses, teachers and other public servants, costing£1.8bn a year in public money.
Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent at Canterbury, who carried out the research for the report, said the rise was also due to changes in legal rules that allow lawyers to waive fees in return for a share of their clients' awards, the so-called 'no-win no-fee' arrangements.
The study found the extent of the increase was being masked because the number of claims making it to court has been falling. This is because companies and institutions increasingly prefer to pay out
The National Health Service is one of the bodies worst affected. Prof Furedi estimates that such claims cost the NHS about£300m last year - a fivefold increase since 1991. There has also been a similar surge in the number of cases against local authorities. The average cost of settling them is£1,700 each.
Police forces generate some of the most expensive and unusual claims. In one case, still being investigated, the Metropolitan Police is being sued by a man who broke his wrist and ankle falling from a drainpipe while trying to get away from the police. But it is not just criminals who are suing the police. Officers are making far more claims than they used to.