18 Mar 2011

Recent trends in transport and logistics law with … Tim Hemingway

Tim Hemingway, Chain of responsibility laws, transport and logistics

Tim, what do you think are the main challenges for the transport and logistics sector at the moment?

Well, trade practices law is always evolving and throwing up new challenges for clients. As we saw recently, the big changes to the laws on unfair contracts have major ramifications for the transport and logistics sector, as standard form contracts are so common – indeed, they're an essential part of doing business. Making sure their contracts don't breach the law has been a bit of a headache for clients.

But it's not just the recent changes which we're seeing clients grapple with. Chain of responsibility laws are not particularly new, but there's still a fair amount of uncertainty out there.

Why do you think that is?

A major reason is that, although there was model legislation, the implementation has not been uniform – there are subtle but important differences between jurisdictions, and national businesses are still trying to understand them.

We've noticed a fair appetite for briefings and seminars on chain of responsibility. Clients have been asking us, "so, what part of our operations would be affected? How do we comply?". So we've been tailoring our seminars to identify those risk points in their operations, and to explain how a strong compliance program and other measures can protect themselves, their employees, and others along the transport chain.

Will this continue?

Well, we're doing our best to dispel the confusion! Having said that, chain of responsibility laws sit within a broader context of compliance and OH&S laws. All States, Territories, and the Commonwealth are moving towards a harmonised OH&S system – the latest stage is public consultation on draft Work Health and Safety regulations – and I would expect some adjustments to chain of responsibility compliance programs as that is implemented.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.