Transport law

Transport law (or transportation law) is the area of law dealing with transport. The laws can apply very broadly at a transport system level or more narrowly to transport things or activities within that system such as vehicles, things and behaviours. Transport law is generally found in two main areas —

Legislation typically consists of statutes known as Acts and delegated legislation like regulations, orders or notices. Case law consists of judgments, findings and rulings handed down by courts.

Transport system things and activities[]

Transport laws can apply at a global transport system-wide level. A transport system can encompass a wide range of matters which make up the system. These include -

A transport system includes not only system infrastructure and conveyances, but also things like -

The Transport Integration Act of Victoria, Australia provides an example of the use of a broad statutory formulation to circumscribe the operation of a transport law in legislative form.[1]

Individual components can be identified from this broad transport system formulation and then regulated discreetly. For example, a bus or a car forms part of a broad transport system but are commonly regulated on an individual basis in terms of identification (registration), control of the vehicle (driver licensing and drug and blood alcohol controls), vehicle forms and fittings (vehicle standards) and other safety requirements.

Examples of transport legislation[]

Victoria again provides an example of a jurisdiction with a suite of transport legislation which operates both at transport system and modal or activity levels.

System level[]

The Transport Integration Act sets out the overall policy framework for transport in Victoria. It also establishes and sets the charters of the key government agencies which make decisions affecting the planning and operation of the State's transport system and each agency is required by the statute to have regard to the policy framework.

As a general rule, transport agencies and officials do not exist in their own right and have no existence or power without conferral from a transport law. Legislation is commonly required for this purpose. Transport decision makers and agencies established and/or empowered by the Transport Integration Act[2] include -

The Transport Integration Act establishes these agencies and sets their statutory charters. The charters circumscribe the agencies' jurisdiction or power to operate in and to regulate their respective components of the transport system.

Mode or activity-based legislation[]

Victoria has a range of statutes which regulate transport modes and transport-related activities throughout the State. These include—

Case law and law from other sources[]

Areas of transport law governed by court decisions and other non transport statutes or laws include property law, contract law, torts law and specialist regulation governing the contract of carriage, and the relationship between carriers and passengers in public transport and shippers and cargo owners in shipping.


  1. ^ Transport Integration Act 2010 - see See the definition of "transport system" in section 3 of the Act.
  2. ^ Transport Integration Act 2010 - see Parts 3, 5, 5A, 6, and 6A.