Chain of Responsibility (CoR) was introduced in 2005, and
substantially amended in 2012 with the introduction of the Heavy
Vehicle National Law (HVNL). It is due to be extensively remodelled
again in 2016 to "better align with national safety laws,
improve compliance and simplify enforcement". So what changes
can you expect and what impact are they likely to have?
The concept of Primary Duties
Existing obligations will be reformulated as 'primary
duties'. Each CoR party under the HVNL will now have a primary
duty of care to ensure, so far as 'reasonably practicable',
the safety of road transport operations.
Under this formulation, what is considered reasonably
practicable will be key. Given the stated intention is to align CoR
with the Work Health and Safety Act (WHS
Act), we can expect 'reasonably practicable' to be
defined in similar terms to the WHS Act, which states:
"reasonably practicable, in
relation to a duty to ensure health and safety, means that which
is, or was at a particular time, reasonably able to be done in
relation to ensuring health and safety, taking into account and
weighing up all relevant matters, including:
the likelihood of the hazard or the risk concerned occurring;
the degree of harm that might result from the hazard or the
what the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know,
the hazard or the risk; and
ways of eliminating or minimising the risk; and
the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or
minimise the risk; and
after assessing the extent of the risk and the available ways
of eliminating or minimising the risk, the cost associated with
available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, including
whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the
Farewell all reasonable steps
It is unlikely anyone will mourn the passing of the 'all
reasonable steps' defence. As recognition that the bar had
perhaps been set too high, the concept of offence/defence is no
more, and defendants will no longer be required to prove that they
took 'all reasonable steps' to prevent the breach from
occurring. Rather, they will be required to demonstrate that they
did what was 'reasonably practicable' (see above) to
prevent/avoid the breach.
No cheat sheets
The HVNL contained examples of the sorts of things that a person
would need to demonstrate to prove that they had taken 'all
reasonable steps' to prevent a breach of the law. This was
considered to promote a 'tick-box' approach to compliance.
This guidance is perhaps less necessary under the new formulation.
It does, however, put the focus back on individual businesses to
perform their own risk assessments; a one-size-fits-all approach is
unlikely to be effective.
These and other proposed changes will have a significant impact
on CoR in 2016.
This publication does not deal with every important topic or
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for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's
specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of
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After some delay, Australia's aviation safety regulator, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority , has announced the approval of new rules governing the operation of remotely piloted aircraft in Australia.
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