If you are a primary consignor making deliveries to multiple destinations, such as retailers and third party distribution centres, at what point do your Chain of Responsibility (CoR) obligations end?
For example, at one of these centres, your palleted stock is loaded on to smaller trucks for delivery to regional locations. While you ensure you comply with your mass limits, and your drivers have all the required paper work with them at all times, where do you draw the boundary line with mass compliance – is it when your goods are passed to the distribution centre or to the other transport companies?
If you answered ‘yes’ to either of these options you would be wrong, unfortunately.
The short answer is that your mass compliance obligations, along with the other pillars of your obligations under CoR law (fatigue, loading and speed) does not end at any point. The concept of the CoR is that all parties along the chain are and remain responsible for any function over which they have control or can influence.
Given that these goods are yours, you will remain primarily responsible for CoR compliance relating to them.
One safeguard you can deploy is to start by ensuring that your mass documentation is accurate and complies with the CoR requirements.
Ensuring that other parties in the supply chain do the same is a lot tougher. However, a defence for many offences under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is if you have taken ‘all reasonable steps’.
Supervision and control of others
There is no basic or absolute rule on the level and scope of supervision and control that will satisfy this requirement because what is reasonable for any business or dealing will depend on the circumstances.
The HVNL provides some guidance that might help to establish if you have exercised reasonable steps. Such as, do you include compliance assurance conditions in relevant commercial arrangements with your business partners?
By including compliance assurance conditions in commercial arrangements, that include terms and conditions or compliance policies that you insist upon, will put your business partners on notice of their obligations under the HVNL and require them to comply.
The CoR Adviser has template for a Compliance Assurance Policy to help draft your own document.
To some extent, you are ‘deputised’ under the HVNL to monitor and enforce compliance by your business partners. Whether or not this fair is a matter for debate but that’s thes law as it stands.
A good tip is to include compliance assurance conditions in commercial arrangements that include terms and conditions or compliance policies that you insist upon. These will put your business partners on notice of their obligations under the HVNL and require them to comply.
As we have mention in previous Bulletins, CoR laws are being updated in 2016 and the best way to keep up to date with any changes that impact your business is by subscribing to the CoR Adviser monthly newsletter.
You will find out more about your CoR responsibilities under these laws through in-depth articles written by legal experts and senior industry representatives (in plain English) to help protect you from potentially costly litigation.