When I left the CPS in 1996 and set up as an independent barrister it was essential to get a fax machine which dutifully sat in my home office waiting for faxes from Chambers. Since it shared the same line with my home phone it became something of a curse; if the phone rang during tea (as it invariably did) and gave the distinctive fax buzz when I picked it up I had to run upstairs to switch the thing on number usually to receive a junk fax with me paying for the, quite expensive, fax paper on which it was being printed. Of course I could have purchased a second line but that would not have been cheap. I needed a fax machine but it was a real nuisance.
Today all those problems are at an end. A few years ago I signed up with a company called Trifax, now Nildram, with a service now called Nildram FaxtoMail, and I have not looked back. For a one off charge of £10 and an annual fee of £20+VAT I get a service that allows me to receive faxes without needing a fax machine.
How the system works
I have a personal fax number 0870 0940115 which is a non geographic number that charges the sender more than sending an ordinary fax though not extortionately more. Faxes can be sent to the number in the normal way and the fax is then sent to my email as a file in Tiff format which can then be viewed through any photo viewer program. I can then print out, delete or store the fax as I choose. From the point of the sender it is an ordinary fax; the only difference is at my end. There is no restriction on the number of faxes I can receive with this service, or of their size.
Having an efax has other advantages. As a barrister I am often working away in distant courts but I can still receive my faxes in the same way as I can receive my emails which certainly comes in useful for my clerks, and also for my opponents who often seem to complete their Skeleton Arguments the night before the hearing, oh joy! In addition, even after I have printed out the hard copy for court use I can retain the fax as a digital file along with any emails, advices etc.
Fax2email offers the option of an 0845 number for £60 pa instead of an 0871 number for £20 pa. The sender is charged at local rate wherever they fax from, which is obviously better for your customers if they are sending faxes to you frequently.
Efax is quite interesting in that it offers the opportunity to send emails which are then converted into faxes as well as receiving faxes as PDF’s attached to emails. It offers a range of options and services and is obviously worth serious consideration if a solicitors firm or Chambers was considering changing its entire fax system to fax-email.
Myfax is similar to Efax in offering a range of options and the ability to send faxes by email as well as receive, their rates are per month and depend on you correctly anticipating the number of faxes you will need to send and receive each month. From the point of view of lawyers I am not too sure how realistic that pricing structure would be. Popfax offers a similar pricing structure.
Most of these services receive the fax directly as PDF files though as I have indicated my faxes are received as Tiff files. I tend to save them as PDFs using the useful, and free, Expert PDF download from .
There are some other services which are offered as part of an overall broadband package, for example plusnet.
Is it worth it?
For firms and chambers which already have fax numbers and machines there may not be any great advantage in moving over to fax-email but for a new firm or chambers, it would make a lot of sense.
For chambers an additional advantage is that a fax can be emailed on to the relevant barrister and the individual barrister avoids the need to have their own digital fax number.
For those whose firms or chambers have not adopted a fax-email system, getting a personal fax number would be money well spent.