What I am referring to, is when a jury rules that the accused is technically guilty, but shouldn't be punished for it anyway. In other words: the jury determines that the letter of the law conflicts with the spirit of it, and chooses to follow the spirit instead.
Can this be done in a civil case? My understanding is that if you go to court with someone over a contract, the case is not tried by a jury. But, can the law still be overridden in the interest of justice?
For instance, imagine a scenario where a A brings in his car for repairs. The mechanic B charges him twice as much as agreed for it, and when A complains he points to some fine print in the contract that A didn't notice when he signed it, which says his prices will be twice what is agreed on tuesdays between 3 and 5pm, and look at that: A brought in his car at 3:05!
So while B is technically correct, it is entirely plausible that a jury might look at this and say: hang on, that's clearly absurd, you can't go around charging people more because they didn't notice your cleverly worded loophole. Except, that since this is a civil case, there's no jury. So, is a judge allowed to say that?
You may disagree with my specific example, but hopefully you get the point: I'm asking whether it is possible for a court without a jury to rule against the technical interpretation of a law, if they determine that following the letter of it would in this single case by unjust, or contrary to the spirit.