The application concerned a girl born in Taiwan to an American father and Taiwanese mother. She was 3 at the date of the alleged wrongful retention. The family initially lived in Taiwan, but prior to a relocation to the United States, the mother moved to Switzerland to live with a new partner, taking the child with her.
During a subsequent visit to the United States by mother and daughter, the father obtained a custody order in his favour. The mother was granted access rights for 3 months a year. The child then remained in the United States with the father. The mother returned to Switzerland where she had a child with her new partner.
In late 1996 the father allowed the child to go to Taiwan with members of the maternal family. He subsequently discovered that the mother intended to take the child from there to Switzerland. He immediately travelled to Taiwan, however this led to him losing his job. He then decided to leave the child with friends in Taiwan while he sought to find new employment in the United States.
In breach of a written undertaking she had made, the mother, during a period of access, took the child to Switzerland and refused to return her to the United States. On 18 July 1997 the father issued return proceedings before a Swiss court, the Gerichtskreis X Thun. That court subsequently ordered the return of the child. The mother appealed.