Commonwealth honour for Loretta Joseph and her work with new model law for digital assets

July 8, 2024
Darren Parkin

THE Digital Commonwealth ambassador Loretta Joseph has been honoured with a Pro Bono Heroes Award in Westminster for her remarkable work on the development of a new model law for digital assets.

The tireless advocate for blockchain and distributed ledger technology was handed the award at Marlborough House by The Right Honourable Baroness Patricia Scotland KC, Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations (main photo, left).

An expert legal advisor with more than a quarter of a century of experience in financial services, Loretta's extensive career has provided her with deep exposure to global financial markets, various asset classes, and emerging market environments. She has advised various countries on developing legal and regulatory frameworks for virtual assets, and also advised OECD and OSCE while being an expert industry participant in many international standard-setting bodies concerning the adoption of virtual assets.

All of this experience has been channelled into creating a 'Model Law on Virtual Assets' as a member of the Commonwealth Committee of Experts supporting the special Commonwealth Working Group.

Officially launched today, to coincide with the Pro Bono Award, the Model Law for Virtual Assets provides Commonwealth member countries with a regulatory framework that will give much-needed legislative clarity to financial markets and vital protection to customers.

Speaking about the model law, the Commonwealth Secretary General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, said: “The Commonwealth is committed to helping its member countries take full advantage of the technological revolution, including virtual assets.

“This necessitates developing a regulatory framework. Approaching this country-by-country can be costly and time-consuming. By pooling our knowledge and expertise, we can create robust frameworks more quickly, affordably, and effectively.

“Our model law offers a forward-looking framework for Commonwealth countries to regulate virtual assets in line with international standards. This is crucial for further-strengthening harmonised regulation across the Commonwealth and creating a secure and transparent environment in which the benefits of virtual assets can be harnessed while mitigating significant risks to our citizens.”

While a few Commonwealth countries have domestic laws on virtual assets, with varying levels of scope, there is no binding regulation across the membership. The model law seeks to harmonise legislation on virtual assets to boost innovation, trade and security throughout the Commonwealth.  

The drafting process for the model law began in 2022, following a request from Commonwealth law ministers.  
The Secretariat set up a working group, consisting of 14 industry experts, including prominent lawyers, financial advisers and technologists, that drafted and negotiated the complex text of the model law through consultations with member countries.  

During the event, the working group was also presented with the Secretary-General’s Pro Bono Heroes Awards for their interdisciplinary work on the model law.  

Accepting the award, the group’s lead, Australian expert Loretta Joseph, stressed the model law represented a significant step forward in creating a cohesive and comprehensive regulatory framework for virtual assets within the Commonwealth.

"Our collaborative effort ensures that we not only keep pace with technological advancements but also set a standard that can be adopted globally to safeguard and empower users of virtual assets," she said.

Commonwealth Assistant Secretary General - Prof Luis Franceschi - commended the group members for their extraordinary pro bono support.

He stated: "Kudos to the working group for their outstanding efforts in drafting and negotiating this complex text. The recent presentation of the Secretary-General's Pro Bono Heroes Awards at Marlborough House recognized their interdisciplinary work, marking a significant milestone in our journey. As the lead of this exceptional group, I am honored to receive this award, considering it my greatest achievement and pleasure in the last decade.

"The collaborative spirit that fueled the development of this model law highlights our commitment to staying ahead of technological advancements and setting a global standard for virtual asset regulation. Special thanks to Prof Luis Franceschi for acknowledging the exceptional pro bono support provided by the group members. Let's continue working together to safeguard and empower users of virtual assets worldwide."