Artist Andy Warhol famously said that "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes". Today, everyone seems to be seeking their 15 minutes of fame. Unfortunately, some people manage to hold onto it for far too long.

How would you feel if this was your 15 minutes?:

  1. " The Court orders that [YOUR NAME HERE] is prohibited from:

    • being a director or other executive officer or manager of a company engaged in the operation and use of heavy vehicles
    • managing the loading and consignment of loads on heavy vehicles
    • managing the receipt of loads from heavy vehicles.
  1. This order applies for a period of 12 months."

These were the exact words of the February 2018 orders of the Local Court of NSW in banning the (now former) Director of Metropolitan Demolitions and Recycling Pty Ltd as a result of a series of mass breaches and false entries by his company.

In addition, Metropolitan Demolitions was fined $1.5 million.

How did this come about? A routine EPA NSW inspection of Metropolitan Demolitions' site uncovered irregularities between records from their site's weighbridge and other documents stating vehicle mass. EPA NSW passed on these concerns to RMS, who conducted an investigation and found 138 mass offences, three instances of knowingly providing false information and 14 executive officer offences.

Due to the severity of the breaches and, no doubt, the fact of knowing misstatement of mass, the Court used its extended penalty powers not only to slap Metropolitan Demolition with a hefty fine, but also to issue a 'Prohibition Order' against its Director and also a 'Supervisory Intervention Order' against the company. The Supervisory Intervention Order requires the company to implement a comprehensive suite of Chain of Responsibility (CoR) control measures relating to mass, under the supervision of the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and being independently audited twice over 12 months, with the audit results being provided to RMS for review.

So, is all publicity good publicity? No, rather than 'fame', this is more an example of 'notoriety'.

Unfortunately, publicity surrounding CoR is more likely to be negative publicity. There is no national awards night for CoR compliance, although it would be equally as entertaining as watching the Logies. There are only investigations, fines, court prosecutions and penalties.

However, there is a private audience and forum for CoR compliance – it is called 'your customers/principals'. No matter where you sit in the Chain, the people above you know that your non-compliance can be used to drag them down. Non-compliance by someone else in the Chain (and a failure by the customer/principal to identify and manage it) is the root of at least half of the major CoR prosecutions. Increasingly, CoR compliance is becoming a major factor in assessing goods, materials and equipment procurement and supply arrangements; transport, warehousing and distribution arrangements; civil construction tenders and any other form of engagement between parties in the Chain.

Being able to demonstrate your business' CoR awareness compliance track record is essential to gaining new business. With the new CoR laws coming into force on 1 October 2018, this will only increase in the short term. So, whilst your CoR compliance is never going to win you an 'award', it can help you win an award of work.

This means that your business has to be ready to reach out and claim its 15 minutes of fame when pitching for new work. Have you got your portfolio ready to show and have you written your acceptance speech? If not, do so, now.

You should be able to hand over a nicely ordered suite of CoR policies and working procedures; examples of contractor/subcontractor contracts which incorporate CoR compliance terms and ensure compliance below you in the Chain; information about your CoR compliance monitoring and examples of recent performance statistics.

If you get this right, whilst your name might not be up in lights, it will be on contracts and purchase orders.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.