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Naming the offender

LEGAL OPINION: Speeding fines acquired by a driver in the company name can reach into five figure amounts

In recent months I’ve seen a few transport companies caught out when a speeding fine arrives in the company name. It’s one of those situations where people find themselves with enormous fines, often without realising they’ve done the wrong thing.

The problem occurs when companies fail to send in the nomination of the person responsible for the fine. With maximum fines in New South Wales of up to $22,000, it’s worth being aware so as to avoid the trap.

In NSW when a speed camera catches an offence the fine is sent to the registered operator of the vehicle. That person or business is then required to nominate the person who was in charge of the vehicle at the time of the offence.

If the fine is in a company name it’s obvious to Revenue NSW that a nomination is required – because of course the company could not have been driving the vehicle. This means that they are onto it as soon as the nomination is overdue.

The fines for failing to nominate are huge, and deliberately so. The government is eager to close loopholes that let people avoid demerit points. The fines for a company failing to nominate are designed to be a deterrent.

As a first step Revenue NSW will issue a penalty notice for failing to nominate. For a first offence the fine is $1,528, for a second or subsequent offence the fine is $4,097.

But after the company is deemed to have not nominated too many times, they will be sent straight to court. In our experience this is usually around the fourth offence.

Many companies don’t realise they’ve even had the prior tickets and so suddenly find themselves at court without warning.

In NSW the magistrate can impose a fine of up to $22,000 for failing to nominate. We regularly see fines of more than $5,000.

When companies have multiple offences it’s easy for the fines to add up quickly. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for companies to receive multiple Court Attendance Notices all at once (e.g., when there’s been a problem with processing mail
leading to several speeding fines
being missed). The transport industry is particularly vulnerable to this problem as an industry where there are many vehicles registered in company names. 


RELATED ARTICLE: Transoprt ompany and schedulers fined in NSW supreme court


We’ve helped a number of owner-operators with these types of charges.

Driver tracking

As always prevention is better than the cure. There are a few common mistakes that seem to cause most fail to nominate offences. Being aware of them means most can be quite easily avoided.

Our tips are:

1. 
Make sure you have a system for keeping track of who has company vehicles at any given time. This can be as simple as a log sheet in the vehicle. Many bigger companies also invest in vehicle tracking equipment that can also record this information

2. 
Forgetting to update an address with Service NSW and then not receiving mail is a common reason for failing to nominate on time. Being mindful of notifying whenever the company moves is a simple step to avoid a court notice

3. 
Finally, it’s important to make sure all staff are trained in the procedures for nominating. Sometimes office staff pay the speeding fine promptly thinking they’re doing the right thing, and not realising that a nomination needs to be submitted.

Hopefully with the simple steps, you can avoid finding yourself in a tricky situation. However, if you do receive a court attendance notice, our team is happy to chat with you about your options.  

*Sarah Marinovic is a principal solicitor at Ainsley Law – a firm dedicated to traffic and heavy vehicle law. She has focused on this expertise for over a decade, having started her career prosecuting for the RMS, and then using that experience as a defence lawyer helping professional drivers and truck owners. For more information email Sarah at sarah@ainsleylaw.com.au or phone 0416 224 601

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