Ms Leila Tai

Ms Leila Tai

Stipendiary Lecturer in Criminal Law


I completed a combined BA/LLB at Monash University, including a year at the University of Edinburgh, and an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Oxford. Prior to beginning my DPhil I worked as a judicial associate at the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.

Working at the Supreme Court gave me an insight into the behind the scenes working of the court and the judiciary and I became interested in judicial decision making, particularly sentencing. Sentencing is one of the most visible functions of the courts but relatively little is understood about how judges go about formulating sentences. This is especially true in Australia where there are no formal sentencing guidelines.

What I especially enjoy about researching sentencing practices is the opportunity to engage in detailed analysis of statute and case law, as well as qualitative research, observations and interviews, to understand how the law is applied.

Research Interests

My research interests include criminal law, particularly sentencing and the structuring of judicial discretion, in the UK and Australia.


My current project examines judicial discretion at sentencing with a particular focus on the Australian model of sentencing, instinctive synthesis. I use doctrinal analysis and interviews with members of the Victorian judiciary to understand how instinctive synthesis is applied in practice.


Before coming to St John’s I taught criminal law at Mansfield College and Regent’s Park and as part of the International Visiting Students Program at Hertford College. I was also Graduate Teaching Assistant for Criminology and Criminal Justice at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford.