Legal English Shot – Please don’t revert to me

The English word “revert” never has the meaning “to contact a person again (about something already discussed)”.

In normal parlance, to revert means to go back to an earlier subject, state, or practice after having departed from it. For example, people learning a foreign language sometimes revert to their native language when they can’t find the right term in the new language. If you don’t want to answer a question, you can try to avoid it by reverting to an earlier topic of discussion. People who seem to have changed, often revert to their former selves after a short period of time.

As a technical legal term, revert is used in connection with property, when possession returns to the original owner upon fulfilment of a given condition, such as the death of the current possessor or the end of a lease (reversion).

When writing to someone you have spoken with earlier, or who has asked you for a response, you can open with:

  • “I refer to our telephone conversation of this morning (a few minutes ago/last week, etc.).”
  • “Further to our conversation…, I would like to inform you…”
  • “With reference to your e-mail (your letter/your request, etc.) dated […], we would like to inform you…”
  • “Thank you for your e-mail (letter, etc.). We have considered the matter and…

Or, less formally:

  • It was nice talking to you this morning. We have thought the matter through, and….

A typical closing sentence promising to contact the correspondent again in a given matter is:

  • “We will get back to you on this matter within the next few days (as soon as possible, etc.)”

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