Current projects / Primary duties for chain of responsibility and executive liability

We aim to improve road safety and compliance by reviewing the existing chain of responsibility framework.

Primary duties for chain of responsibility and executive liability

  • Scoping > 
  • Analysing issues > 
  • Analysing options > 
  • Implementing


Chain of responsibility (COR) is about keeping our drivers and community safe and making sure our transport networks remain productive.

Operators and drivers on the ground have told us that the COR regime would benefit from greater clarity and consistency, and ensuring there is appropriate coverage of all key parties that influence heavy vehicle road safety.

We aim to improve road safety and compliance by reformulating and consolidating existing obligations on current chain of responsibility parties into primary duties of care, and clarifying executive officer liability to ensure consistency with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) principles.

Read our list of frequently asked questions about this project.

Next steps

We have developed the detailed policy settings necessary for the reform, including:

  • considering the impact of any changes on other areas of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL)
  • the treatment of COR for speed, fatigue, mass, dimension and loading, and vehicle standards
  • considering the impact on, and potential changes to, executive officer liability including the reformulation of the existing Chain of Responsibility obligations of executive officers as a due diligence obligation
  • consulting with stakeholders to ensure proposals are workable from legislative, regulatory and operational perspectives.

Ministers endorsed our detailed policy recommendations on chain of responsibility duties review and executive liability reforms at their November 2015 meeting.

The bill with the chain of responsibility and executive officer changes was agreed by ministers in early 2016. This bill was passed by Queensland parliament, the host jurisdiction for the HVNL, on 1 December 2016 and will amend the HVNL.

These amendments will commence on a date to be proclaimed. This is likely to be in mid-2018 to allow for an appropriate implementation period.

We are now looking at two related reforms: 

  1. Responsibilities of corporate executive officers
    We are examining whether the due diligence obligation on executive officers should be extended from primary duties to the entire HVNL.

    We released a consultation paper in March 2016 and final policy recommendations were considered by ministers in November 2016. Ministers endorsed our recommendation for the limited extension of the executive officer due diligence obligation to cover all offences for which executive officers currently have liability under the HVNL. The NTC is currently preparing further amendments to the HVNL to give effect to these reforms. These amendments will be presented to ministers for approval in May 2017.

  2. Investigative and enforcement powers
    We are asking whether the regulator and enforcement operators have the right powers to meet the objects of the law. Submissions for this discussion paper closed on Friday, 9 December 2016.


Chain of responsibility is based on known operational relationships within the supply chain and transport industry. Currently the HVNL places different duties on various parties within the chain, including:

  • General duties: general safety obligation on all parties.
  • Intermediate duties: based around the role and functions of relevant parties.
  • Process based duties: specify particular processes or steps that may be followed in order to meet an obligation.
  • Specification standards: inclusive of precise and detailed information on what needs to be done to meet a duty.

At present, the HVNL also contains executive officer liability (personal liability for corporate fault) provisions which extend the liability for some chain of responsibility provisions to executive officers of corporations.

Under the HVNL there are two situations in which an executive officer may face liability for a listed offence:

  • where the executive officer actively authorised or permitted the offence
  • where the executive officer knew or ought reasonably to have known of the conduct constituting the offence, or knew or ought reasonably to have known there was a substantial risk that the offence would be committed.

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Contact us

Project Manager Robert Chamberlain
Last Updated: 30/5/2018