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NTC Executive officer due diligence submission

29 April 2016

The ATA has called for corporate officers and directors to be held personally liable under the Heavy Vehicle National Law for exercising due diligence to prevent 34 specific safety critical offences, as part of this submission to the NTC’s executive officer liability review.

Governments agreed last year to introduce a positive due diligence obligation for executive officers to ensure businesses in the road transport chain of responsibility comply with a new primary safety duty.

This was a big win for safety, as the new law will encourage officers to focus on improving safety outcomes, rather than spending hours on meeting highly prescriptive paperwork.

The NTC is now examining whether that obligation should be extended to the non-chain of responsibility duties and obligations in the current law. However, the ATA is concerned that some of the options set out in the review may weaken industry safety, not strengthen it.

Option 2 was to remove executive officer liability for non-CoR offences, including serious safety offences related to vehicle registration, operating an unsafe heavy vehicle and speed limiter tampering.

Although the executive officers of chain parties would still have a due diligence obligation to ensure compliance with the new primary safety duty, the ATA and the NTC agree that this option could reduce safety, because officers would no longer personally liable for these specific offences.

The submission instead recommends that governments adopt NTC option 3, which would impose a due diligence obligation on executives for 34 safety critical offences in addition to the planned primary safety duty due diligence obligation

The submission rejects a fourth option considered in the review, which would make executive officers personally responsible for exercising due diligence to prevent some 200 additional offences, many of an administrative nature.