Frequently Asked Questions - Chain of Responsibility

You should seek out companies that have a good reputation and avoid working with companies that are known to have a poor safety and compliance reputation.

You should negotiate an agreement with a transporter, whether it’s in a written contract or a verbal agreement, which makes clear that they must comply with regulations and safety requirements and that if they breach those requirements there will be consequences. For example, if a vehicle sent to collect your goods or stock that you believe is not safe or too small for the load, you may send it away without being loaded, and insist that an appropriate vehicle was sent instead. Your contract or agreement with the transporter should cover what would happen in those circumstances, particularly if delay would cause financial loss to you. If a transporter refuses to accept those conditions, or fails to meet them, you should consider looking for a different transporter.

In most circumstances you don’t have any control or influence over what happens when your goods leave your property, and you will not be liable if your conduct did not encourage or cause the speeding.

You must avoid asking your transporter to deliver your goods within a timeframe that requires the driver to speed to get there on time.

You should ask your transporter to arrive with enough time to load the vehicle, and drive to its destination legally and safely, factoring in unplanned delays. To assist, make sure your goods are ready to be picked up, and if for any reason you will be delayed, let your transporter know as soon as you can.

There is no specific requirement in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) to undertake any mandatory courses in chain of responsibility (COR).

However, an operator may consider it prudent to invest in COR and other types of training, as part of taking reasonable steps to ensure they and their drivers comply with the HVNL and relevant road transport laws.

When you make arrangements for your goods to be transported, you should request that the transporter obtains all necessary permits, and schedules the journey to meet legal requirements

Drivers and operators have traditionally been the focus of road laws. However, breaches are often caused by the actions of others. Under chain of responsibility (COR), complying with transport law is a shared responsibility and all parties in the road transport supply chain are responsible for preventing breaches. This approach recognises the effects of the actions, inactions and demands of off-the-road parties in the transport chain.

Anybody – not just the driver – who has control over the transport task can be held responsible for breaches of road laws and may be legally liable. COR is similar to the legal concept of 'duty of care' that underpins Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) law. This approach has long been used by the courts to impose liability in negligence and damages claims.

All parties in the supply chain – consignor/dispatcher, packer, loader, scheduler, consignee/receiver, manager, as well as the driver and operator – must take all reasonable steps to prevent breaches of the road transport mass, dimension, loading, speed compliance and work hours laws.

Penalties and sanctions range from formal warnings to court imposed fines and penalties relating to the commercial benefit derived from offences. Supervisory intervention orders and prohibition orders banning individuals from the industry can be applied to 'persistent or systematic' offenders.

See About the chain of responsibility for more information.