Scarfing a big spud should be a sufficient defence all on its own in ROF's opinion - who doesn't feel drowsy after that?

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”.

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Anonymous 17 May 24 07:18

"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"

Possibly the most tragically mundane description of a working day I have read so far in 2024.

A strong antidote to anyone imagining that life at the Bar might have some element of glamour.

Anonymous 17 May 24 07:26

"Nagesh, who wrote the book on allegations of sleepy misconduct"

This is also priceless in the circumstances. I like to imagine that it is filled with chapters that just kind of tail off mid-paragraph before resuming with a sudden start after several blank pages.

Also, it makes me wonder how many other practitioners texts will be cases of life imitating art. Like, is Snellworth on Theft and Plagiarism just a hastily stapled together collection of passages pulled from other works? MacCauley on Intoxication, Incapacitation and Narcotics defences in Criminal Proceedings a slurring mess of addled rambling that sort of forgets the point it was making mid-sentence? Was Mr Tolley a prolific tax dodger? The mind boggles.

scratchy 17 May 24 08:13

Sounds like a litigiously risky way to go about advertising your specialist publication, Nagash!

papercuts 17 May 24 08:35

As a Summer intern in Birmingham in 1991, I recall being intrigued by the counterparty's London lawyer.  He started the meeting in a state of high energy, then started to t-a-i-l  o-f-f ... he actually kept slumping forward.  Then he'd nip out to the gents, and return, re-energised.

Chuckling, my boss explained that, in order to close the deal, the guy hadn't slept for several days, and was popping pills in the loo in order to stay awake.

Then, in London, my employment contract (in 1993) stated that my working hours would be "whatever the business of the partnership shall require".

It speaks volumes for the optimism of trainees that, despite the foregoing, I didn’t turn and run.

The Paginator 17 May 24 09:22

I was once in a stifling hot court in the RCJ, a TCC case I think ( before the rolls buildings was completed), when the judge apparently nodded off.  

The instructed barrister, (a legend and now a KC), looked back at me and then deliberately knocked a large file onto the floor with a resounding crash.

The judge woke up with a snort. My instructed barrister then apologised profusely to the judge and the court for his clumsiness, and then said he had lost his train of thought, and asked the judge if he could tell him where he had got up to?  

What a star!

LondonLife 17 May 24 10:17

When I was a trainee, I went to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in regard to a death penalty sentence for someone in Jamaica i.e. someone's life was at risk. The judges were all very old and senior - however, not long into the hearing, one nodded off for the whole thing. He was literally sat in front of the whole hearing snoring away. Oddly I was the only one who was surprised and nothing was said or done about it. 

Anyway, we won and the guy was sentenced to death. 


Anonymous 17 May 24 16:14

Not sure why anyone would think it is ok to sleep through a meeting that you should be attending for work.  Never mind a Court hearing.  Suggesting in any way that it should be ok that she did so is snowflakery of the first order.  Get a grip and stay awake all the working day everyone.

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