Re: UK Intellectual Property Office - Sorry can you FAX that
"The reason? Apparently this is because they need to have it date stamped and counted by their document reception department only for it then to be scanned in. Sounds like some wonderful job creation right there."
This is a legal requirement. Under a first to file patent system the first physical filing is the one that gets the patent. Hence the requirement for a time stamp step. An email would have to be printed then time stamped or have some way to validate time of arrival. This could be done but getting the courts to accept it would take some doing.