The children of the family involved in the application, both girls, were aged 7 and almost 5, at the date of the alleged wrongful retention. Until December 1994 they had spent all of their lives in Scotland. The parents were married and had joint rights of custody. However, on 21 December 1994 they entered into a separation agreement as to the care of the children.
In accordance with the agreement the father took the girls to live with him in France. In early April 1995 they went to England to visit the paternal grandmother. On 12 April the mother was permitted contact with the girls, but, she did not return them as arranged to the paternal grandmother’s home and instead took them to Scotland.
The agreement entered into by the parties provided for the arrangements to be reviewed after six months. While in France the girls attended school, participated in local social events and steps had been taken to arrange medical care for them locally. On 18 July 1995 the Outer House dismissed the father’s return petition on the basis that the girls were not habitually resident in France. The father appealed.