We're not done yet Graincorp: RTA

RTA refuses to give up on chain of responsibility case, telling the Supreme Court it will appeal its decision

We're not done yet Graincorp: RTA
We’re not done yet, Graincorp: RTA
By Brad Gardner | December 17, 2009

The chain of responsibility case involving GrainCorp is set to take another turn, with the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) refusing to give up on the issue.

Despite the Supreme Court last month dismissing mass overloading charges against the consignor, the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) will now take its case to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

"The RTA has filed a notice with the Supreme Court which states it intends to appeal the decision. The RTA now has until 12 February 2010 to appeal," an RTA spokesman says.

There has been no date set for a hearing because appeal proceedings have not begun.

GrainCorp declined to comment when contacted by ATN, but GrainCorp Managing Director Mark Irwin expressed relief after the Supreme Court’s decision in November.

He said at the time the decision showed GrainCorp fulfilled its obligations under chain of responsibility laws.

The company faced fines of $18.23 million and allegations of 332 mass loading breaches for accepting overloaded trucks in 2005.

The RTA told the Supreme Court that the company’s policy of warning rather than turning away overloaded trucks was insufficient.

However, Judge Peter Hall ruled that GrainCorp’s actions may have prevented it from being prosecuted because refusing access would have contravened another law.

"The likely result of the defendant refusing to accept a load from a vehicle in breach of a mass requirement, the defendant argued, would have been to force drivers of overloaded vehicles back onto the road thereby exposing the defendant to liability under…the [Road Transport (General)] Act," Hall says.

Hall also ruled the consignor had taken action at a senior executive and managerial level to consider the provisions it was obligated to follow.

The Supreme Court’s decision followed the ruling of the Burwood Local Court in May last year favour of GrainCorp.

NSW last month launched a review into chain of responsibility laws to determine if they needed to be "urgently" strengthened in the wake of the failed prosecution.

Minister Assisting the Minister for Transport David Borger says the Road Freight Advisory Council, which includes industry leaders Ron Finemore and Jim Savage, raised concerns the ruling could undermine the laws.

The review is due to be completed before Christmas.

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