The three children, two girls and a boy, were aged 5, 3 and 2 respectively, at the date of the alleged wrongful retention. They were habitually resident in the USA. The parents were married and had joint rights of custody. On 3 May 2001 the mother travelled to Scotland with the three children in order to spend a holiday with her parents. The mother and children had return tickets for 2 August 2001. The father had consented to their stay in Scotland during this period.
In July 2001 the mother informed the father that she and the children would not be returning. On 16 August 2002 the father applied for the return of the children under the Convention. On 18 October 2002, the court of first instance (Outer House of the Court of Session) ordered that the children be returned. The mother appealed.