According to a Brisbane-based law firm, the courts are imposing heavier chain of responsibility fines, close to the maximum fines available. The maximum fines have also increased, so offenders are paying much heftier penalties.
In a post on Fullyloaded.com.au lawyer Gillian Bristow said that the trend among judges seems to be to opt for heavier penalties for breaches to COR rules.
Bristow is a specialist transport industry lawyer who says that courts are increasingly imposing close to maximum penalties on organisations that breach chain of responsibility laws.
Bristow is special counsel with Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers and says that new Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) contains heavier fines. She said that companies in the supply chain should reconsider their systems and processes very carefully, even if they think they have the sufficient measures in place.
She also warned that directors can no longer escape prosecution by delegating safety and compliance. She explained:
“[Recent cases] demonstrate the willingness of courts to impose penalties close to the maximum where operators do not have proper systems and practices of load restraint,” she says in a special analysis of decisions by the NSW Supreme Court.
“Directors will not escape liability simply by delegating safety and compliance to suitably qualified staff.”
Bristow notes a case in point which happened last year involving a double rigid truck with an improperly secured load of empty gas cylinders. The contents of the truck subsequently shifted and caused the trailer to overturn into oncoming traffic. As a result one person was killed, the driver of a car who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Bristow highlights that the 2 companies involved in this incident received close to the maximum penalties. She notes that the conduct of the 2 businesses involved after the incident contributed to the court’s decisions on penalties.
She went on to explain that many of the steps implemented by one of the companies, should have already been in place. The court did note that the implementation of the measures would likely prevent similar offences involving the company’s fleet from occurring again.
Bristow also warned the industry that the precedent is even more relevant under the Heavy Vehicle National Law with higher maximum penalties allowed. She explained:
“Transport operators and others in the supply chain should be aware that the maximum penalty that a court can impose on a company for a breach of load restraint provisions under the new HVNL is $50,000: much higher than under previous state legislation.”
Read more at: http://www.fullyloaded.com.au