You, Your Business, Container Weight Declarations (CWD) and the chain of responsibility.

The model National Road Transport Reform( Compliance and Enforcement) Bill ( the Bill) makes provision for compliance with, and enforcement of, laws relating to the operation of heavy vehicles as part of the system of nationally consistent road transport laws. The Bill was approved by the Australian Transport Ministers on 3rd November 2003 and States, Territories and the Commonwealth are introducing legislation, with any necessary adaptations to give effect to the provisions of the Bill.

This insight bulletin focuses on Container Weight Declarations(CWD) and the responsibilities of CBFCA members ( and their clients) to ensure compliance with the new Legislation.

The role of the CBFCA is to ensure its members are informed and understand their responsibilities under the new legislation. The CBFCA has worked on behalf of its members with the Road Transport Authorities to review the concerns related to issuing CWD’s on behalf of import/ export trade logistics sector.

The chain of responsibility means that persons (individual or corporate, not just the driver) who have control in a transport operation can be held responsible for breaches of road laws. In other words, if you use road transport as part of your business, you share responsibility for ensuring compliance with the legislation.

If a breach of road transport law occurs due to your action, or inaction, liability may accrue.


The principle of chain of responsibility currently applies under driving hours and dangerous goods regulations. However, new legislation will take the chain of responsibility to mass and dimension limits, and load restraint requirements.

The National Transport Commission comment on the Chain of Responsibility under Publications, Information Bulletins, July 2006.

A CWD for a freight container is a declaration that states, or purports to state, the weight of the container and its contents.

A CWD must include:

  • Number and other details necessary to identify the container.
  • Weight of the freight container and its contents.
  • Name, Home Address or Business Address in Australia of the responsible entity.
  • Date of Declaration.

The Compliance & Enforcement (the Bill) legislation mandates that CWD’s must be provided by the person (defined as the responsible entity, namely the person in Australia) who engages the road carrier or offers the container for transport by road in Australia. Without CWD, a driver is not legally able to transport the container.

The legislation is designed to ensure that drivers and road transport operators receive the correct information to enable the selection of the appropriate vehicle to transport the container within the relevant legal mass limits.

The CWD must be in a form to enable inspection/verification and is and evidentiary document, it may consist of more than one document and may be wholly or partly a placard attached or affixed to the container.