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Last year, the Legislature amended the Spill Compensation and Control Act, N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11 et seq., to provide an innocent-purchaser defense to persons who purchased contaminated property prior to Sept. 14, 1993. Although the amendment provides criteria necessary to be met to establish the defense, it leaves open-ended the level of due diligence and inquiry necessary to have been performed by a past purchaser.

For those persons who clean up and remove a discharge of a hazardous substance, the Spill Act provides, in addition to any common-law claims a person may have against other parties that may have contaminated or been responsible for the contamination of property, a private right of action for contribution in favor of those persons who clean up or remove a discharge of a hazardous substance, and against dischargers and persons who are in any way responsible for the discharge of a hazardous substance.

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