The application concerned a child born on 13 November 2009 in Australia to an Australian father and a mother with dual British and Australian nationality. The parties were not married but had lived together between October 2008 and January 2011.
Before meeting the mother, the father had been a heroin addict and between 2009 and the mother’s departure it was agreed that he had serious alcohol relapses following upon the collapse of his business. The mother also made allegations of serious violence on the part of the father. The mother removed the child to England in early February 2011 without informing the father.
The father applied for the child’s return to Australia under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. He offered a number of undertakings to help assuage the mother’s anxiety about returning. On 30 August 2011 a return order was refused.
The trial judge held that notwithstanding the protection offered by the undertakings offered by the father and the protective measures available in Australia, a return would nevertheless expose the child to the grave risk referred to in Article 13(1)(b). On 2 December 2011 the Court of Appeal upheld the father’s appeal. The mother subsequently sought and received leave to appeal to the United Kingdom Supreme Court.