Hot Topic: Chain of Responsibility
The Heavy Vehicle National Law Amendment Bill was passed in the Queensland Parliament in December 2016 and the changes are expected to take effect in 2018.
The key changes involve a new chapter directed at chain of responsibility parties and the principle of shared responsibility. It includes a proactive primary duty on chain of responsibility parties to ensure the safety of transport activities, instead of the current provisions where parties are only liable once breaches are detected.
It also includes a proactive due diligence obligation on executive officers of entities with a primary duty, and prohibits requests and contracts that would cause a driver or chain of responsibility party to breach fatigue requirements or speed limits. Other changes involve:
- the use of enforceable undertakings as an alternative to prosecution for certain offences.
- additional information gathering powers for authorised officers, including police, in relation to a possible contravention of the primary duty of care
- the introduction of self-clearing defect notices as an additional type of defect notice for defective vehicles that do not pose a safety risk or if the vehicle’s number plate is obscured.
NatRoad will provide further information to members on these changes as it comes to hand.
- February 2014 National Heavy Vehicle Law and regulations commence
- February 2016 National Heavy Vehicle Law amendment commenced
- 2016 National Heavy Vehicle Law amendments industry consultation
- September 2016 National Heavy Vehicle Law Amendments Bill introduced to Queensland Parliament
- November 2016 National Heavy Vehicle Law Amendments Bill to be debated in Queensland Parliament
- February to June 2017 – NatRoad Regional Trucking Summits – information on the new changes
- Late 2017/early 2018 – National Heavy Vehicle Law Amendments commence
If you consign, pack, load or receive goods as part of your business, you could be held legally liable for breaches of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) even though you have no direct role in driving or operating a heavy vehicle. In addition, corporate entities, directors, partners and managers are accountable for the actions of people under their control. This is the ‘chain of responsibility’ (CoR).
The aim of CoR is to make sure everyone in the supply chain shares equal responsibility for ensuring breaches of the HVNL do not occur. Under CoR laws if you exercise (or have the capability of exercising) control or influence over any transport task, you are part of the supply chain and therefore have a responsibility to ensure the HVNL is complied with.
The law recognises that multiple parties may be responsible for offences committed by the drivers and operators of heavy vehicles. A person may be a party in the supply chain in more than one way. For example they may have duties as the employer, the operator and the consigner of goods.
Legal liability applies to all parties for their actions or inactions.
- Cooper Grace Ward will be hosting various webinars and training session to discuss the new provisions and the effects on the road transport industry and other participants in the supply chain.
- The changes will also form a key part of the NatRoad Regional Trucking Summits in 2017 and you can register your interest in attending now natroadsummit.com
- NatRoad Information Sheet can be found Information Sheet - Chain of Responsibility (pdf - 407 KB)
Comprehensive information sheets and podcasts on Chain of Responsibility are available through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
For those members in Western Australia changes to the chain of responsibility under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) will not affect the WA laws which will continue as they are.