The children, both girls, were 6 and 1 at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. On 18 January 1996 the High Court made a care order in favour of the local authority, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. This provided, inter alia, that the children could not be removed from the jurisdiction without leave of the court or written consent of every person having parental authority.
On 10 February 1996 the mother unilaterally took the girls to the United States.
On 14 February 1996 a return petition was filed at the Supreme Court.