Chain of Responsibility

06 August 2018

From taking “reasonable steps” to manage risk, to the imposition of a Primary Duty.

The Chain of Responsibility (CoR) regime is intended to ensure that responsibility for preventing breaches of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) are shared by each member of the supply chain.

The HVNL regulates safety and maintenance issues in relation to heavy vehicles with gross vehicle mass or aggregate trailer mass of more than 4.5 tonnes.

New measures in the CoR regime are due to come into effect on 1 October 2018 and are intended to align heavy vehicle law with occupational health and safety law.* From 1 October 2018 each member of the supply chain will have a primary duty to ensure that everything reasonably practical to guarantee safety in transport and reduce the risk of harm and loss, is done.


Everyone in the supply chain has responsibility for the transport activities they control or influence to ensure that breaches of the cornerstone obligations of the HVNL do not occur.

As the law presently stands it is incumbent on all members of the supply chain to take reasonable steps to manage risk and comply with the CoR regime.

Primary Dutys

From 1 October 2018 all members of the supply chain will have a primary duty to prevent breaches of the CoR regime by eliminating or minimising the potential risk of harm or loss by doing all things reasonably practical to ensure safety.

Steps to ensure safety and compliance can include having processes and training in place which:

  • identify and evaluate risk
  • implement practices to ensure compliance with the CoR regime
  • utilise regular reporting
  • document steps and procedures in place to ensure compliance

Having taken ‘reasonable steps’ to manage risk is relevant to compliance with the current CoR regime however, the imposition of the primary duty means that “taking reasonable steps” will no longer be sufficient to defend against a finding that there has been a breach of the CoR regime and the hefty penalties that can flow.

Executives’ Liability

Executives should be aware that they are presently under an obligation to exercise due diligence to ensure compliance with the CoR regime. From 1 October 2018 Executives will have a primary duty to exercise this due diligence and ensure compliance.

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* Please note Western Australia and the Northern Territory have not implemented the Heavy Vehicle National Law and are governed by their own rules and regulations.