The mother and father married in England in 1985 and divorced in 1988. Their one child, a girl, was born in 1988. Under the terms of a consent order issued by the English court, the mother was awarded custody and was also permitted to relocate to Canada. The father was granted access.
The mother moved to Canada with the child in 1989 and obtained landed immigrant status. The mother returned with the child to England in April 1990, but moved back to Canada later that year. In 1991 the mother again returned to England with the child, but decided after a short time to move back to Canada.
In September 1995 the mother once again moved back to England and enrolled the child in school there. The father brought an application for a custody order in November 1995. The mother too applied for custody in December 1995. While the applications for custody were pending before the English court, the mother returned to Canada with the child. The father brought an application for the return of the child.
The court of first instance held that the mother had wrongfully removed the child from England and ordered that the child be returned. The mother appealed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario.