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One code to rule them all and in compliance bind them

04 February 2019

#Transport, Shipping & Logistics

Nathan Cecil

Published by Nathan Cecil

One code to rule them all and in compliance bind them

The Industry Master Code of Practice (Master Code) was officially launched on 29 November 2018.

“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring.

The Master Code is a little like the titular object of The Lord of The Rings books, except without the overtones of demonic enslavement. It is intended to be “one Code to rule them all and in compliance bind them” though. Or, to use the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator's (NHVR) description, the Master Code:

“represents an industry-led risk-based safety and compliance framework and provides a set of national standards and procedures developed to assist parties in the chain of responsibility to identify and mitigate risks to meet their obligations under the HVNL and contains risk management process guidance to assist supply chain parties to manage their general safety obligations under the HVNL”.

Translated, this means that the Master Code is intended to be an industry best-practice:

  • identification of the common Chain of Responsibility (CoR) risks arising from supply chain activities
  • survey of the available and suitable methods, systems or tools to address and reduce those risks
  • guide on how to identify CoR risks arising in your business and assess which of the available and suitable methods, systems or tools are appropriate for your business.

So, the Master Code is intended to describe the ‘gold standard’ for adopting a risk-based approach to CoR compliance management. As such, it can be used either as a road map to assist you to navigate your way through the risk-assessment and compliance risk management system design and implementation and also as a yardstick against which to measure any compliance risk management system that you independently develop.

But, the Master Code isn’t only for use by industry. Section 632A of the Heavy Vehicle Law (HVNL) provides that in court proceedings for breach of the HVNL the Master Code may be submitted as evidence and the court may:

  • have regard to the Master Code as to what is known about hazard and risk assessment and control
  • rely on the Master Code to determine what controls are reasonably practicable, within sectors covered by the Master Code.

This means that if you can show the court that your CoR compliance management system identifies and addresses the CoR risks that the Master Code says arise from your transport activities and that you have implemented controls which the Master Code says are designed to mitigate those risks, then the court should accept that you have ensured, so far as reasonably practicable, the safety of your transport activities and discharged your primary safety duty under the HVNL.

The Master Code isn’t mandatory though. There is nothing stopping you from providing your own evidence of risk assessment and mitigation, including the adoption of controls that are different to those recommended in the Master Code.

Much like the Load Restraint Guide, as long as you can satisfy the regulator and court that your own independently developed CoR compliance management system reaches the same end point so far as reasonably practicable, the safety of your transport activities then you can safely go it alone.

However, even if you aren’t going to adopt the Master Code as the starting point for your CoR compliance management system, it is a comprehensive and free-to-use guide, so we still recommend that you have a look through it to make sure that there is nothing significant that you are missing. The reason is that in the same way that the court can accept the Master Code of evidence that you have appropriately addressed the common CoR risks arising in the sector, the Master Code could also be used against you if it can be shown that you have completely failed to identify and address the common risks identified in the Master Code.

The Master Code can be found here

AuthorNathan Cecil 

* A version of this article was originally published in CoR Adviser. This article is © 2019 Portner Press Pty Ltd and has been reproduced with permission of Portner Press.


Nathan Cecil, Partner 
T: +61 2 8083 0429 

Geoff Farnsworth, Partner 
T: +61 2 8083 0416 

Harry Kingsley, Partner
T: +61 3 9321 9888 

Suzy Cairney, Partner 
T: +61 7 3135 0684 

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

Nathan Cecil

Published by Nathan Cecil

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