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CoR questions answered

September 27, 2018


The changes to Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws take effect next week.

From Monday October 1, the maximum penalties for breaching the new Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) are as follows:

  • up to $3 million for corporations; and
  • up to $300,000 and up to five years in prison for individuals.

Have you done everything to ensure you will be meeting your obligations under these new CoR laws?

If you still have any questions, now is the time to answer them.

Below we clarify three important areas of CoR our newsletter subscribers have asked us about.

What should you do if you’re asked to exceed work hours to make delivery times?

Q: As an owner-operator, we sometimes encounter situations where consignors/consignees will ask us to exceed our work hours in order to make a delivery time, etc. What are our responsibilities under the CoR regime in these circumstances and how can we respond?

A: As an operator of a road transport business and a driver, your responsibilities include ensuring that rosters and schedules and terms of any consignments do not require drivers to exceed work, rest or speed limits.

If you are driving while you are out of hours, you will be in breach of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

However, you have mentioned that a consignor or consignee is encouraging you to exceed your hours.

In these circumstances, they are also potentially liable for a Chain of Responsibility (CoR) breach of the HVNL, as they face an obligation not to encourage drivers to exceed permitted work/rest hours.

Although it may be difficult to do, the best way to respond is to stand your ground and indicate that you are prohibited from exceeding work hours, and they face liability if they encourage drivers to exceed the permitted work/rest hours.

What documents should heavy vehicle drivers have on board?

Q: Could you please advise some of the compulsory documents that a heavy vehicle should have when on the road?

A: In short, some of the key compulsory documents that are required to be carried on board include:

  • permits;
  • notices – national and state-based;
  • national work diary;
  • container weight declarations; and
  • National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme documents.

Subject to some exceptions, you can present most documents to an authorised officer in either hard copy or electronic form. You should also ensure that all relevant on-board documentation is:

  • valid and current;
  • accessible and can be read easily by the authorised officer without having to enter the vehicle; and
  • contains sufficient identification details specific to the vehicle.

Can employees face individual penalties for CoR breaches?

Q: Some of our drivers have enquired whether they face individual criminal or civil liability in relation to potential Chain of Responsibility (CoR) breaches. We understand that as a party to the chain, we face these obligations – but can our employees be personally liable?

A: Drivers are a primary (i.e. named) party in the chain. They therefore face primary and personal liability for breaches.

Where an employee driver commits an offence, their employer will be vicariously responsible for that offence and may also be prosecuted. However, this is in addition to the prosecution of the driver.

Other parties within your business can also be prosecuted personally. Where a corporation commits an offence, the directors and managers can be personally prosecuted for the breach. Likewise, any person who provides inaccurate or false or misleading information in relation to a consignment.

Are you up to speed on all your CoR obligations?

Not knowing the CoR laws that affect your business could be extremely costly.

Get up-to-date, in-depth information about your CoR responsibilities in CoR Adviser.

Written in plain English by the transport lawyers at Holding Redlich, this newsletter, online resource and email helpdesk provides you with important legislation updates, news, hints and tips to help you understand all of your legal obligations surrounding CoR laws.

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