The Chain of Responsibility

In 2005, the so called "chain of responsibility” (CoR) offences were introduced in Part 6C of the Land Transport Act 1998 (LTA) and in 2011 the Court was given the power to issue a search warrant to constables investigating such offences. The LTA can be viewed here

Whilst there have been no recent changes to the CoR regime, this may be an appropriate time for cargo owners, suppliers and those in the logistics industry to re-familiarise themselves with the CoR legislation. There is obviously a lot of focus recently on health and safety, with new legislation being proposed in the Health and Safety Reform Bill (aimed to come into force in April 2015 - as advised by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment here). In Australia, very recently, the CoR regime was given renewed attention: the (Australian) National Transport Commission introduced an options paper as part of the ongoing review of the CoR provisions in the Heavy Vehicle National Laws. Those Laws came into force in many Australian States in February 2014 (see here).

The CoR offences in the LTA recognise that every person who influences driver’s behaviour and compliance may be held accountable. "Every person” is very wide and can include persons who operate trucks, owners and directors, persons who pack or load goods, shippers, consignees, logistics planners, freight forwarders, etc.

Under sections 79T and 79U of the LTA, every person commits an offence (punishable by a fine not exceeding $25,000) who, by act or omission, directly or indirectly, causes or requires a driver: to breach the applicable speed limit, to fail to comply with the rest time requirements, to fail to maintain a logbook, or to exceed the applicable maximum gross weight limits for the vehicle.

Interestingly, in the context of weight restrictions, the responsible Sub-Committee at IMO has agreed to a draft amendment to Chapter VI to the SOLAS Convention requiring mandatory verification of the gross mass of containers by the shipper of such cargo, for carriage by sea. The draft amendment has been submitted to the Maritime Safety Committee for approval with a view to subsequent adoption. If the amendment is adopted and comes into force as part of the SOLAS Convention, New Zealand shippers will face additional obligations in relation to container weight.

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