The children were 10 1/2, 8 and nearly 4 at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. They had lived in Australia and the United Kingdom. The parents were married and had joint rights of custody.
In late 1989 the family decided to relocate to England. The oldest child moved in November 1989 while the rest of the family followed in April 1990. On 26 June 1990 the mother unilaterally took the two younger children back to Australia. On 27 June 1990 the father obtained ex parte orders from the English High Court making all the children wards of the Court. The Court further declared that the removal of the children was wrongful and ordered their return forthwith.
In July 1990 the father applied to the United Kingdom Central Authority for the return of the children pursuant to the Convention. On 20 July 1990 the application was heard and the return of the two children ordered. The mother applied to the Family Court for a review of that order.
On 7 August the review judge accepted that the removal was wrongful but refused to order the return of the younger children, finding that the standard required under Article 13(1)(b) had been made out. The Director General of the Department of Family and Community Services as the Australian Central Authority appealed.