The child, a boy, was 2 1/3 at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. He had lived in Western Australia all of his life. The parents were not married and the father had no custody rights in respect of the boy. On 21 March 1990 the mother took the boy to England, her State of origin.
On 12 April 1990 the father was awarded sole guardianship and custody by the Family Court of Western Australia and on 26 April the same court made a declaration that the removal of the boy was wrongful.
On 19 April 1990 the Australian authorities made an application for the summary return of the child. On 30 April 1990 the English High Court ruled that there had neither been a wrongful removal nor a wrongful retention. This ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeal on 17 May 1990.
The father appealed.