Hot Topic: Chain of Responsibility

 What is Chain of Responsibility all about?

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.

Background to Chain of Responsibility Law Changes

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.

Key Resources

NatRoad Chain of Responsibility Handbook

NatRoad has been hard at work to ensure that our members have access to the latest resources such as our popular Chain of Responsibility handbook, comprehensive information sheets, and a variety of safety management checklists.

Order additional printed copies of the Chain of Responsibility Handbook.

NatRoad Webinar Recordings

Please note, the webinar recordings are available to NatRoad Members only

NatRoad Document Templates

NHVR Resources

Fact Sheets


Related articles:

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.

Click here for further information.