Credit card issuers fear that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s attempt to simplify credit card term agreements could inhibit their ability to enforce agreement provisions.

Last week, the CFPB released its prototype for simplified card agreements. The prototype contains about 1,100 words, which is an 80 percent cut from the average 5,000 words that most issuers currently use. Issuers are concerned that the cut would mean provisions that had previously been spelled out now would only be implied.

“While the bureau's goal of simplifying customer-account agreements is a good one, we have serious concerns about whether the courts would enforce all the various provisions that would need to be incorporated into the short forms only by reference, without the specific language backing them up," said Alan Kaplinsky, partner at Ballard Spahr and Practice Leader of its Consumer Financial Services Group.

Mr. Kaplinsky worries that credit card agreements cannot be shortened without endangering important legal explanations.

“The bureau is understandably concerned about consumer information overload, but issuers have never put anything into these agreements that was frivolous. It's a good discussion to start, but I'm very skeptical about whether you can really reduce the verbiage in credit card agreements without opening up a whole new batch of problems,” Mr. Kaplinsky said.