Price to pay
The court notes the highest penalty could have been more than $ 2.1 million but regarded the case as “midrange offending” and the penalty in this case came to 34 per cent of the total available.
The case hinged on a Lake Macquarie Council deal for Remondis to handle the loads from the council’s Awaba Waste Management facility, to be paid on weight.
Remondis employed Jet to transport them from Awaba to Jet’s own facility using a council-operated weighbridge.
Though the weighbridge dockets recorded instances of overloading, these were not reviewed or acted on.
The magistrate says that though the court accepted “that the remorse is genuine, the chain of responsibility legislation under which Remondis has been prosecuted compels that active and preventative measures be taken in relation to the whole process”.
“It was never open to Remondis to rely on Jet to be properly trained and informed as to the overweight vehicles, especially when it was Remondis itself that loaded the mulch, using their machinery, without any provision for each load to be measured or weighed as it was going into the Jet truck,” the magistrate states.
The defence argument was noted that despite the large number of offences, all had stemmed from a single act of criminality – “whereby Remondis as consignor had a flawed compliance system in place”.
“The Court has found that although that may be so, there were many ramifications because of that flaw, all the way down the transport chain,” the magistrate states.
“I am also of the view that to describe the compliance system as ‘flawed’ is somewhat generous – until the RMS intervened, Remondis had no mass compliance system in place at all, and entrusted that to others.”
Now, Remondis has: a loading protocol, so that applicable mass limits are identified and can be verified at the point of loading; load cells at the loader bucket to ensure that the legal load limits are not exceeded; communication protocols between the company and the weighbridge or driver to ensure that no truck can exit the site overweight; and supervision to ensure compliance or corrective action when noncompliance occurs.
RMS sees the outcome as bolstering COR’s implication for all those in the chain.
“Chain of responsibility investigations focus on all parties involved in the transportation of goods on NSW roads,” an RMS spokesman tells Owner//Driver.
“Under road transport legislation, all parties in a logistics chain are responsible for ensuring they meet specific duties and obligations.
“Roads and Maritime Services’ number one priority is community safety and will continue to pursue offroad parties which operate unsafe and non-compliant vehicles.”
Holding Redlich partner Nathan Cecil sees it the same way.
“This most recent and significant Chain of Responsibility prosecution highlights the ongoing policy to pursue consignors, loaders and consignees, the critical importance of managing the compliance of contractors and third parties in the Chain and the essential need to have in place contractual compliance regimes and documented business compliance practices in order to avoid substantial financial penalties,” Cecil says.