Australia is a country famous for uniqueness … Kangaroos, wallabies, Duck-Billed whatchamacallits—the list goes on. In road transport legislation too, we have a set of regulations which while not totally unique, are not yet adopted on a widespread basis around the rest of the world.
I say not yet … but I believe the time will come when the “chain of responsibility” concept becomes adopted in many western nations. In fact, COR legislation was recommended to the United States Congress in 2014 and is currently under consideration.
Back at home, knowing your place in the chain of responsibility is critical if your business is to steer clear of liability for something that happens literally a way down the Australian highway.
What is the Chain of Responsibility?
In a nutshell, chain of responsibility legislation applies to pretty much any entity involved in a supply chain; at least if that supply chain involves goods transportation by road. Essentially, if a truck driver commits an offence under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and you exerted even a small degree of influence over the event, you can be held liable in part for the offence.
Here’s an example …
As a simple example of how you might be liable for a driver’s HVNL breach, imagine you are responsible for unloading inbound deliveries from a supplier. Your team is under pressure when a truck comes in and consequently, the truck is held for some time before the goods on board finally get unloaded.
As a result, the truck driver fails to take a scheduled break in his efforts to get back to base and is subsequently involved in an accident for which he is blameworthy. Now here’s the bad news … under COR law, you are potentially blameworthy too.
It Pays to Know Your Place
This is of course, a simplified example, but hopefully the message is clear. If you and your company are in a position to influence the course of events in the transport of goods by road (and you are in Australia), you should know your responsibilities under COR legislation. So do yourself a favor; if you aren’t already aware, get yourself up to speed post-haste and know your place in the chain of responsibility.
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