Chain of Responsibility Legislation: Amendment Laws in 2018 Explained

What Is the Chain of Responsibility?


Chain of Responsibility legislation was first introduced to tighten road transport regulations. It extended potential legal liabilities to off-road parties, including both industry participants and transport users. If you’d like to learn more about the Chain of Responsibility, we wrote an in-depth article explaining the Chain of Responsibility in detail. 


With amendments to Australia’s Chain of Responsibility (CoR) Laws due mid 2018, it’s important to understand how it affects you. CoR can be a significant issue for many commercial entities that don’t understand how they are impacted by road transport laws, or the pending changes to the CoR legislation in 2018.


Now is a good time for both transport operators and users to review their potential responsibilities and liabilities under the new proposed legislation, which takes the following direction:


Current Legislation Proposed Changes – 2018
·   Deemed Liability ·   Primary Duty
·   Reasonable Steps ·   So Far as Reasonably Practicable
·   Onus on Defendant ·   Onus returns to Prosecution
·   Fatigue, Speed, MDL ·   Vehicle Standards included
·   Executive Officers after Corporation ·   Positive Duty
·   Focus – Driving Breaches ·   Focus – Business Practices

Source: NHVR – Michael J Crellin, Manager, Chain of Responsibility

Who Is Affected by These Changes?


In addition to consignors/dispatchers; consignees/receivers; packers; loaders/unloaders; heavy vehicle drivers; operators/managers, there are several other parties covered by CoR, including:


  • Those responsible for scheduling goods, passengers and heavy vehicle drivers.
  • Persons supervising the loading or unloading of vehicles, or who manage or operate premises where loading or unloading occurs


According to the National Road Transport Commission, anyone who has control over a transport task can be held responsible for breaches of the law and may be legally liable for offences committed.


What Does This Mean for Executive Officers?


These amendments to the CoR Laws in 2018 will affect the Executive Officers of involved commercial entities through the amended Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

  • Under the amended HVNL, Executive Officers have a proactive duty to exercise due diligence and take reasonable steps in relation to the safety of transport activities relating to heavy vehicles
  • Executive Officers cannot delegate this duty.

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