The Hon Justice Adrian Fulford said at a panel on bribery and corruption in London this week that the act was a major step forward, but cautioned those who thought it would solve the problem.

He said: “The act is wonderfully constructed, but there is no excuse for complacency. It would be naïve to think this is not a British offence or problem.”

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The UK’s 2010 Bribery Act will go into place in April 2011. It has broad support from both the public and Parliament. The act replaces the UK’s current corruption laws which date as far back as 1889. Britain’s rank on Transparency International’s Corruption Index fell this year from 17th to 20th place.

Justice Fulford’s remarks were echoed by fellow panellists John Benstead, a partner at the McGrigors law firm, and by Vadim Yalovitsky, head of the unit of international cooperation in major cases at the prosecutor general’s office in the Russian Federation.

Mr Benstead supported the legislation, but was worried that many UK companies did not have a solid understanding of the new law and how it will affect them. Mr Yalovitsky said the act will help countries cooperate on matters of corruption and bribery more effectively and added that he hoped this would be the case between the UK and Russia.