The Expansion of Potential Class Size (and Exposure) Under Aryeh v. Canon Business Solutions, Inc.


On January 24, 2013, the California Supreme Court held that common law exceptions to the standard four-year statute of limitations apply to claims brought under California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”). The Aryeh decision may allow plaintiffs bringing class action cases under the UCL to expand class sizes beyond the UCL’s four-year statute of limitations by using common law accrual exceptions, such as the delayed discovery rule and continuous accrual doctrine, to bootstrap potential class members with otherwise stale claims into a timely class.


Plaintiff Aryeh ran a copy business that rented copiers from Defendant Canon. Aryeh’s lease terms required him to pay a monthly rental fee for each copier, and included a maximum copy allowance. Copies made in excess of that allowance were subject to an additional fee. Aryeh alleged that Canon employees made substantial numbers of copies during service visits between 2002 and 2004, and that those additional copies caused Aryeh to exceed his copy maximum and owe excess copy charges and late fees to Canon.

Aryeh sued Canon in January 2008 for violation of the UCL, demanding restitution. Canon demurred, arguing that Aryeh’s claims were time-barred by the four-year statute of limitations, which began to run in 2002, when the first violation occurred. The trial court sustained Canon’s demurrer on those grounds. A divided Court of Appeal affirmed, joining one side of a split among the appellate courts, and holding the UCL was not subject to common law rules that allow for modified accrual based upon delayed discovery and continuing-wrong principles.

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