NEC3 ECC: The interpretation of the word 'may' in clause 42.1

We are in the Defect Correction period of a contract and we have a situation whereby some equipment that we designed and installed is electrically tripping. The seemingly obvious reason has proved not to be the case and the design is robust as regards meeting the requirements of the Works information except that it trips for an unknown reason.
Bearing in mind the design was an enhancement of an existing facility and the reason for tripping is unknown currently we would expect the Client to instruct us to search pursuant to Cl 42.1.
However they are merely saying the system doesn’t work and therefore an instruction to search is unnecessary citing the wording as meaning they ‘may or may not’ instruct the Contractor to search - effectively according to their mood at the time - but we believe the wording, in the context, means that - The Supervisor ‘might have the need’ to instruct the Contractor to search . The clause is surely intended to protect both parties against cost depending upon the outcome of the search and what it reveals - it is not automatically a Defect.

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You are right and you should read compensation event number clause 60.1 (10) whereby if you do the search and no Defect is found - i.e. what you have done is not in accordance with the Works Information or the applicable law (see clause 11.2(5)),- then the Employer will pay for that search as a compensation event.