15 February 2023
In Transport for New South Wales v De Paoli Transport Pty Ltd (2022), transport company De Paoli Transport was fined $180,000 for speed and fatigue offences. The company entered a guilty plea under section 26G of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).
Mr George De Paoli was the sole director and shareholder of the line-haul trucking company. He was responsible for scheduling drivers to carry out deliveries, with the assistance of Jonathan De Paoli. George and Jonathan De Paoli were charged in their capacity as schedulers of the company and were fined $15,000 each after entering guilty pleas of contravening their duty under section 26C to manage driver fatigue, speed, and compliance with work and rest hours. This brought the total fine to $210,000.
At first instance, De Paoli Transport was fined a mere $15,000, George De Paoli was fined $6,000 and Jonathan De Paoli was fined $3,000. On appeal, his Honour stated that the primary Judge’s sentences were “manifestly inadequate” and the primary Judge had erred in focusing on the “absence of any accidents rather than the assessment of risk caused by the offending conduct” and the failure to give “proper regard to deterrence”.
De Paoli Transport was found to have failed to put in place and maintain adequate systems and practices to manage fatigue, which included:
De Paoli Transport also failed to provide its drivers with adequate training in relation to:
As schedulers, George and Jonathan De Paoli failed to ensure that drivers’ trips were safe by not:
While no accidents or injuries formed any part of the complaint, the Court focused on risk and deterrence. The Court considered that the safety measures already in place were plainly inadequate. Although the schedulers were not deliberately avoiding their obligations, they failed to safely schedule drivers and check drivers’ documentation to ensure compliance with the HVNL.
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator reported that this decision “highlights that the HVNL operates based on what duties you perform, not the title you hold”.
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