The case related to a boy who was aged 13 at the date of the alleged wrongful retention. The parents were married. The father, a United Kingdom citizen, adopted the mother’s two children of a previous relationship. The family moved to New Zealand in 1993. In February 1998 the parents separated and the father left the family home alone.
On 25 February 1998 the mother unilaterally removed all of the children to England. At this time the boy was 9. The father instituted return proceedings in respect of all of the children but his application was dismissed in June 1998.
Thereafter there were several hearings in the High Court in London with regard to access. The boy went to New Zealand on several occasions in 1999 and 2000. A further order was made in 2001 allowing the boy to spend 24 days in New Zealand in July. The boy went to New Zealand and was due to return on 17 August. However he did not return.
The mother issued return proceedings. On 25 October 2001 the New Zealand Family Court refused the mother’s application. The mother appealed.