Workers who are taking legal action against employers on the grounds that they were refused employment after being blacklisted may have their fate decided by three test cases in north-west England

The proposal has been put forward by Mr Justice Brain, who is presiding over an employment tribunal in Manchester, as a way of resolving other cases quickly. It is not known how many workers are suing, but about 3,200 were included on the list run by a private detective called Ian Kerr, and used by many of the UK’s largest contractors.

Letters have been sent to employers and blacklisted workers in the area to ask whether they would be amenable to consolidating the cases in order to achieve a speedier resolution.

The cases would be chosen by lawyers representing workers and contractors, and would set a precedent that would allow the speedy resolution of other cases.

Anthony Fincham, head of employment law at CMS Cameron McKenna, said it was a sensible idea for dealing with “incredibly unwieldy” cases, but warned that each was different, and there was no guarantee that a decision in the three test cases would apply to them.