Chain of responsibility blitz nets $180k in fines

By: Jason Whittaker

New South Wales is cracking down on chain of responsibility breaches, resulting in more than $180,000 in fines for rogue

New South Wales is cracking down on chain of responsibility breaches, resulting in more than $180,000 in fines for rogue trucking operators in the last month.

A company director of a large Victorian-based company was held liable for 89 overloading offences even after the business went into liquidation.

John Bogdan was held personally responsible based on his role as director of Bullin, with the Goulburn Local Court ordering him to pay $158,697 in fines, court costs, and professional fees.

"This judgement shows that the chain of responsibility laws will not be defeated by the liquidation of a company and that company directors can be prosecuted and personally fined for the activities of their business," a spokesperson for the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) says.

In what the RTA claims is the first judgement of its kind under the laws, Bogdan was hit with the financial penalty on October 2, a year after Bullin went bust after recording over 500 offences in NSW between December 2003 and October 2007.

In a separate case on September 29, Queensland Freight Management was ordered to pay $22,500 in previously suspended fines after it failed to install accurate on-board weighing devices on all of axles of its heavy vehicles operating in NSW.

The company was originally ordered by the court under a supervisory intervention order to install the devices.

The RTA spokesperson says it is the first time a court has ruled against a trucking company for failing to abide by an order.

"The order came into effect in March of this year after the case in which Queensland Freight Management pleaded guilty to 16 offences. Because of that failure, the court has removed the suspension of the earlier fines," the spokesperson says.

However, the freight operator will still be bound by the supervisory intervention order.

The fine is higher than what it would have cost the company to install weighing devices on a heavy vehicle.

According to the RTA, the court was told the cost of installing a device would cost between $7,500 and $8,500 per vehicle.

The RTA argued the devices Queensland Freight Management used were inaccurate and below the quality demanded.

The supervisory intervention order is one of the new sanctions available under chain of responsibility laws. The orders can only be made by a court, which can only issue one on the basis the defendant is a systematic offender.

As a result of the order, the RTA has the ability to monitor Queensland Freight Management’s compliance. The spokesperson for the RTA says officers will continue to pay close attention to the company.

"This latest judgement emphasises that the chain of responsibility laws require real commitment and real action from the management of trucking companies to ensure that their business complies with road transport law," the spokesperson says.

The laws in NSW originally related to mass, dimension and load restraint but the Government last month decided to extend them to cover fatigue and speeding in the heavy vehicle industry.

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