*Personal forms of address
Personal forms of address means that your letter is speaking to the person directly, not to the firm or partnership or position. We usually finish such letters with 'Yours sincerely' because that is considered to be more personal than the alternative, 'Yours faithfully'.
'Dear John' is a personal form of address. You can make it more personal by adding the word 'My': 'My Dear John'.
'Dear Sir' is not personal; we call this a formal form of address.
When a letter is to a friend, whether it has an official purpose or a social purpose, the form of address can be more personal. This means that it could eliminate the form of address altogether and just begin with the recipients name 'Sylvia' or it could copy verbal modes of greeting such as 'Hello Sylvia; or 'Hi Sylvia' and could replace 'Yours sincerely' with 'Regards' or 'Kind regards' or 'Cheers'. Care must be taken to ensure that these forms of address are appropriate to the situation.
Some forms of address appear to be quite formal, but are still personal: For example, when we are speaking to someone who holds a position of which there is only one in the world, we often prefer to speak to them via their position, to show some respect or to avoid appearing to be too off-hand. This means that a letter that contains the forms of address 'Dear Chief Justice', OR 'My Dear Chief Justice' and 'Your Honour' would be considered to contain personal forms of address and would be finished off with 'Yours sincerely', even though we have never mentioned that person's name in the letter. In fact tradition implies that it would be considered inappropriate to start a letter to this person with 'Dear Sir'. We know who this person is, their public status and position ensures that, and so we should speak to them directly.
We have applied this rule to all senior figures of the judiciary.
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