In brief - Directors in Queensland now able to rely on
presumption of innocence
The Directors' Liability Reform Amendment Act
removes nearly all provisions in Queensland legislation which
contain a reverse onus of proof. This reform places the onus on the
prosecution to prove the required elements of the offence.
Queensland Act designed to promote consistency in
directors' liability around Australia
Legislation intended to reduce number and complexity of
provisions related to liability of directors
The Act follows an audit by the Queensland government of over 80
acts containing some 3,800 executive liability offence provisions.
The main focus of the Act is the reform of provisions contained in
current legislation that impose personal liability on directors for
offences committed by their corporations ("Director Liability
The policy objectives behind the introduction of the Act include
reducing the red tape and regulatory burden placed upon Queensland
businesses and addressing the concern in the business and legal
communities regarding the number and complexity of Director
Two liability standards for Director Liability Provisions
The Act significantly reduces the number of Director Liability
Provisions contained in Queensland legislation, and, for those
provisions that remain, the Act seeks to categorise them into one
of two liability standards:
Executive liability (standard) provision
– liability attaches where the corporation commits an offence
and the officer did not take all reasonable steps to ensure the
corporation did not engage in the conduct constituting the
Executive liability (deemed) provision –
an officer will be taken to have committed an offence committed by
a corporation under this type of liability provision where the
officer authorised or permitted the corporation's conduct
constituting the offence; or the officer was directly or
indirectly, knowingly concerned in the corporation's
Importantly, the Act also removes nearly all Director Liability
Provisions in Queensland legislation which contain a reverse onus
of proof. Practically, this reform now ensures that directors can
take advantage of the presumption of innocence principle and places
the onus squarely on the prosecution to prove the required elements
of the offence.
Sustainable Planning Act and Child Care Act
excluded from reforms
Two important Queensland acts which have been excluded from the
reforms are the Sustainable Planning Act 2009, which has been excluded
on the basis that it is subject to current comprehensive review and
the Child Care Act 2002, which has been excluded on the
basis that it is due to be replaced.
Additionally, acts specific to occupational health and safety
and the environment were excluded from the reforms on the basis
that these areas were not within the scope of the initial COAG
None of the liability reforms affect the liability of a
corporation itself for the offence, the liability of an executive
officer under an executive (deemed) liability provision, or any
other person under chapter 2 of the Criminal Code.
On 12th November 2016, new laws will commence to protect small businesses from unfair terms in standard form contracts.
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