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Risks of submitting false or misleading information

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has released a regulatory advice notice to assist operators to understand the information they are required to submit to officials under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

Submitting verbal or written information to the regulator, or other officials that is false or misleading – either knowingly or recklessly – is an offence under the HVNL and subject to prosecution, the latest advice notice states.

Below is an edited extract of the full document. 

For more guidelines and information, visit nhvr.gov.au and search for regulatory advice.

What are my legal obligations?

The HVNL defines how people and businesses who operate heavy vehicles are expected to behave. 

Under the HVNL, all participants in the industry – from company officers to heavy vehicle drivers and other employees – must create, use and provide accurate and robust information that is based on fact. 

The NHVR and other officials use this information to provide services to industry, such as road network access and vehicle standards exemptions as well as informing compliance monitoring and enforcement activities. 

Submitting false or misleading information, either knowingly or recklessly, is an offence and may be liable for a penalty under HVNL sections 701-703.

What are the legal consequences?

If you provide the NHVR or another responsible person with false or misleading information, you may be issued with an infringement notice. For more serious offences, a court imposed fine, or penalty may apply.

What is this important to my business?

To ensure the safety of transport activities participants in the heavy vehicle industry must be able to act on information that is truthful, accurate and easily verifiable. Information that is hard to find, inaccurate, incomplete, incorrect, or unreliable, may lead to a safety risk. 

How can I comply with the HVNL law?

To comply with legal obligations, you must not:

• Include something in a work record that you know, or ought reasonably to know, is false or misleading.

• Knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements to an official or a responsible person.

• Knowingly or recklessly give an official a document containing false or misleading information.

Recording or providing information

CoR parties, executives, heavy vehicle drivers and anyone in the heavy vehicle industry should:

• Familiarise themselves, understand and comply with HVNL requirements around record keeping and the provision of information including applications, transport documentation and work records.

  Be open and honest. 

• Record and provide complete, accurate, and timely information.

• Not obstruct, hinder or threaten officials, or someone who helps officials, to exercise their powers under the HVNL.

Avoiding liability for false or misleading information

Businesses must take reasonable precautions to prevent employees from providing false or misleading information to avoid liability.

If there is any doubt about the accuracy of information provided, ensure that the person providing the information makes a note of any known deficiencies and, if possible, why that information is lacking.

The HVNL requires all work records, documents, statements, and information to be truthful, factual, and complete. Reliable information is an essential component to enable CoR parties, executives, and drivers of heavy vehicles to manage their own safety risks. Good record keeping practices that ensure information is easy to find, accurate, complete, correct and robust prevents non-compliance and helps manage safety risks.

What are the NHVR’s powers to obtain information?

We have a risk-based and balanced approach to regulating heavy vehicles under the HVNL. We rely on accurate and robust information to inform our decision making on services and products the NHVR provide industry and to inform compliance and enforcement activities.

We use our information gathering powers under the HVNL to obtain information that:

• Relates to possible breaches of the HVNL.

• Will assist us in providing services to the heavy vehicle industry.

• Will assist us to monitor and enforce compliance with HVNL.

Note: This information is also intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.

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