The Department of Justice has decided not to lodge an appeal against a court decision that left it stranded in trying to prosecute Occupy protesters for contempt of court, but will lodge fresh applications instead. It said it made the decision because lodging an appeal might delay the legal process even more. The department said the role of prosecutors in criminal contempt proceedings was to bring to the court's attention matters it thought judges should consider "in the interest of the administration of justice, so that the court can decide whether or not to punish the persons involved for contempt". Lodging an appeal might help to clarify legal matters, it added. "However, such a course will have the effect of deferring the final determination of the contempt proceedings against the 17 said persons for a considerable period of time. "Balancing all the relevant considerations, the secretary of justice took the view that the overall public interest … can be best served by making fresh applications instead of appealing against the decision," the department said. At a hearing on September 2, High Court Judge Mr Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming discharged the 17 Occupy protesters arrested last year for obstructing bailiffs at a protest site in Argyle Street, Mong Kok. The department had obtained permission on March 20 to charge the 17 activists with contempt for failing to comply with a court injunction order, the High Court heard earlier. However, the department had failed to file a notice to fix the hearing date by April 4 due to an "oversight" by department lawyers and a "situational" mistake. Chow ruled that he had neither the jurisdiction nor the discretion to grant the department an exemption. The department's move means that it has to restart legal proceedings from scratch and again acquire leave to proceed from the High Court. Cheng Kam-mun, one of the defendants, said that since Chow had already stated he had no power to grant discretion, he did not see how the court would rule in favour of the department should it ever file an appeal. The founder of now-defunct student activist group Student Front said the department was wasting taxpayers' money by pursuing the case after making the technical error.