The Ministry of Defence has been urged to settle the damages claims of Britain's atomic test veterans before it is too late.
After a judge's ruling that ten test cases out of a total 1,011 claims could proceed to full trial, the servicemen called on the Government to "come to the table".
They blame their ill-health, including cancer, skin defects and fertility problems, on involvement in Britain's 1950s nuclear tests on the Australian mainland, Monte Bello islands and Christmas Island between 1952 and 1958.
Many of them are terminally ill and seven - including five of the test case claimants - have died since the hearing began at London's High Court in January.
Neil Sampson, of Rosenblatt Solicitors, said that they were delighted with Mr Justice Foskett's decision but regretted that the process had taken so long.
"We still have a further period of perhaps three years before the case can finally be brought to court for trial and sadly, in that time, many of the veterans we are fighting for will have passed away. We hope that the Ministry of Defence will recognise this and agree to settle the claims of the veterans out of court, rewarding them with the compensation they rightly deserve."
Douglas Hern, the 73-year-old litigation secretary of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, said he hoped he Government would "now come to the table" and negotiate, rather than appeal the judgment.
Mr Hern, who attributes the death of his 13-year-old daughter from cancer to his radiation exposure, said that if the litigation continued without settlement many ex-servicemen would not live to see the eventual outcome. Some of the veterans "won't be here possibly within two or three months".
The MoD, while acknowledging the "debt of gratitude" owed to the men, denies negligence and sought to halt the multimillion-pound litigation at a preliminary stage on the basis that it was launched outside the legal time limit.
A spokesperson said: "The MoD, while being disappointed with the ruling, respects the judge's discretion to allow the claims to proceed to a trial that will establish whether or not the veterans' illnesses have a causal link to the tests. We will now review the full judgment before making a decision on how to proceed."