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SARTA takes massive swipe at absurd client COR demands

Body says transport client interference is 'reaching ridiculous proportions'


The South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) has launched a broadside at an increasing incidence of overzealous clients in the supply chain, in what it deems an unintended consequence of last year’s chain of responsibility (COR) reforms.

The growing COR compliance and consultancy space is leading to some clients becoming increasingly intrusive in the operations of a transport outfit, SARTA notes, which is actually counterproductive as it “only serves to increase their own legal liabilities”.

In a no-holds-barred statement, the association points its finger at “ill-informed and/or scared customers”, who “are really only interested in covering their legal backsides, demanding ridiculous levels of reporting from their transport providers as well as absurd, unnecessary levels of intervention and access”.

“We are hearing this more and more from a wide range of operators who have large corporate clients,” SARTA says.

It notes that some clients are building bigger compliance monitoring units and are imposing significant “and utterly unjustified” administrative and financial burden on their transport providers.

The association says it has the backing of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), which has previously acted to ease customer overreactions.

The regulator has clarified that third parties are not responsible or liable for all aspects of transport activities and operations – only their own; and that the liability of each party in the chain of responsibility starts and ends with their respective level of influence and control over the activity concerned.

Read the NHVR’s COR clarification in full, here

“Any client that injects itself into your business activity and demands extensive data and records about your activity is in fact increasing their own legal liability because they are increasing their level of influence and control over your activities,” SARTA continues.

“That means the client is shooting themselves in the foot and putting a legal noose around their own and their directors’ necks … entirely unnecessarily.”

“The massive compliance units and systems that some of the overzealous COR chiefs (and their auditors who are trumping up work for themselves at your expense), are blowing out their own compliance costs significantly.

“We don’t expect the compliance managers in these client companies to get it or to be interested because it’s their empires that they are eagerly establishing.”

SARTA says the directors of the client companies need to be targeted effectively with the aforementioned message, “as they are obliged under the Corporations Act to: minimise their and their corporation’s legal liabilities; and minimise their costs, especially unjustifiable costs”.

“SARTA is in dialogue once again with the NHVR in an endeavour to get the message through to the directors and boards of corporate clients of road transport operators, in the expectation that they will sit on their overzealous compliance managers who are going far beyond their corporation’s level of influence and control over your transport activities.

“You and we probably would not care so much about this if: their requirements were reasonable; and they paid you for the cost of their own demands …. but they don’t.

“Why is this happening in the first place? Because the corporate clients’ lawyers are either completely missing the point about the level of influence and control, or they are advising their clients that [they] have to do more rather than less because a court might find them in breach otherwise.”

SARTA is proposing a revised Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) must make clear that Third parties are:

  •  not liable for the actions of their transport providers, so long as the third party “gets their bits right” and meets its obligations
  • entitled to rely upon the various accreditations held by their transport provider as evidence that they meet their COR obligations in relation to the issues covered by those accreditation schemes.


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