Roll On Friday Report: Vindication for barrister who nodded off during a hearing after eating a baked potato


A tribunal has called the Bar Standard Board’s decision to prosecute a barrister who fell asleep during a hearing “very troubling”.

Ramya Nagesh of 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square was attending a coroner’s inquest remotely from a Holiday Inn hotel room in 2022 when she “dozed off” during the lunch break after eating a baked potato.

As a result she returned to the hearing 15 minutes late and missed the evidence being given by her client, a nurse who was appearing at the inquest as a witness.

She dropped off again during the afternoon session, this time for almost two hours, which became apparent when she didn’t answer the coroner’s invitation to ask questions and couldn’t be reached by the court, her chambers or her instructing solicitor.

The BSB accused Nagesh of breaching professional standards by failing to provide an adequate explanation or an apology for her absences.

However, The Bar Tribunal cleared her this week after accepting her defence that she had been suffering from a triple whammy of fatigue and excessive sleepiness brought on by Covid, vitamin D insufficiency and a sleep disorder.

It agreed that her medical issues caused an “impairment of cognition, memory and insight”, and said it was “very troubling” that the BSB had doggedly persisted in bringing charges against Nagesh without pausing to properly consider the evidence.

Nagesh, who wrote the book on allegations of sleepy misconduct (literally: A Practical Guide to Insane and Non-Insane Automatism in Criminal Law – Sleepwalking, Blackouts, Hypoglycaemia, and Other Issues), told RolIOnFriday, “I’m very relieved at the decision and extremely grateful that the Tribunal took so much care over the case. I’m also indebted to my legal team who have been fantastic throughout. It’s been an incredibly difficult 18 months, but I’m now happy to be putting it all behind me.”

A spokesperson for the BSB told RollOnFriday, “We are aware of the tribunal’s comments concerning this case and we will be considering them carefully”.