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MORE than 350 law firms face losing work from the AA following the motoring organisation's decision to drop free legal advice for members accused of driving offences.
They will have to win more clients independently rather than having them referred by the AA's in-house lawyers.
Peter Newman, head of the AA's legal services department, says the automatic free advice for members will be replaced with a limited service for "deserving cases", backed by a £100,000 fund.
He adds that there will be no change in staffing levels among his 30-strong team of lawyers based in Manchester. The arrangement for civil work, mainly with Amery-Parkes, will not be affected.
The changes, to take effect from next April, will mainly affect about 360 firms which handle the 4,500 defence cases each year for members on mostly drink-drive and speeding charges.
Newman says: "We certainly don't perceive any job losses. This is not a cost-saving exercise. Our members just don't want their subscription fees used to help people who are guilty of motoring offences."
The new system will be aimed at members who have a good case for pleading not guilty.
However, guilty members will be backed if their case is likely to explore an area of law with implications for other motorists.