Two prisoners have launched a High Court action arguing they have been kept in conditions so bad that their human rights have been violated.
In May, the chief inspector of prisons Anne Owers said conditions on the Victorian Gurney wing at Norwich Prison were "appalling".
William Beattie and Paul Hazell have both served time at the wing.
If their application succeeds and they are entitled to damages, it could lead to other prisoners bringing cases.
The wing, also known as A Wing, had been empty and ready to be demolished but had to be reopened to accommodate prisoners because of the overcrowding crisis.
The head of the Prison Service said the "condemned" wing would be refurbished when the overcrowding problem was solved.
Nicholas Blake QC, a deputy High Court judge, called for an environmental health inspector to be appointed to inspect the prison.
He said the application by Beattie and Hazell for permission to seek judicial review would be adjourned until after the appointment.
Hazell of Gonville Close, Mildenhall, Suffolk, was recently released from HMP Norwich's A wing.