COR court attendance can be crucial lawyer says

By: Brad Gardner, Photography by: Brad Gardner


Explaining to magistrate what caused the offence is likely to lead to a better outcome

COR court attendance can be crucial lawyer says
Gillian Bristow says there are steps trucking operators can take to reduce the size of the penalty for a chain of responsibility offence.

 

Making an effort to explain what led to a chain of responsibility (COR) offence will likely lead to a better outcome in court, the trucking industry has been told.

Specialist transport lawyer Gillian Bristow has urged those charged with breaching COR to take the time to appear in court to defend themselves.

Bristow says managers and owners should not elect, by way of a court attendance notice, to be sentenced in absence.

"If you do that, you are completely at the mercy of the magistrate on that day and how they are feeling, and don’t be surprised of the level of the penalty that you receive," Bristow says.

"It isn’t difficult to make some form of representation and you will always get a better reception from a magistrate if you are actually trying to explain what happened rather than just ticking a box saying, ‘so sorry, please send me the fine’."

Bristow, who works for firm Cooper Grace Ward, says trucking operators that can demonstrate they are not a repeat offender may receive a reduced penalty for a COR offence.

She says it is also useful when making a submission to include what your business is currently doing to prevent incidents from happening if they are already part of company policy, practice and experience.

"Attach a copy of your policy about speeding, say that you check all of you drivers’ driving records once a year, say that you check this particular driver’s driving history not six months ago and he’d never had a fine before either, and then say what happened that caused it this time," Bristow says.

"Why was it that on this particular occasion something went wrong and something fell through the cracks? And put in there what have you done to make sure this won’t happen again.

"All of these things will help convince a magistrate that you aren’t the kind of person that deserves the maximum penalty."

Bristow also highlights the importance of ensuring staff are trained in and aware of company policies and procedures.

"Much as I am in favour of policies and procedures and manuals — they’re all good — having a manual that lives in the HR [human resources] department that you paid a lot of money for seven years ago that no-one’s ever been trained in and you’ve got no evidence that they ever read — [is] really not worth very much," she says.

 

NEXT: Trucking will still be the main target under new-look COR law

 

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