Cosmin Flavius Costaş is a partner and co-founder of Costaş, Negru & Partners law firm. He graduated the Faculty of Law of the University Babes-Bolyai Cluj-Napoca (2003), earned a Master’s Degree in European Institutions and Regulations (2004) with the same institution and graduated the International Faculty of Comparative Law in Strasbourg (France), class Louis-Edmond Pettiti (2005), earning a Diplome supérieure en droit comparé.

He is currently a professor at the Faculty of Law in Cluj, where he teaches Tax Litigation. He is a litigating lawyer since 2005 and he is currently entitled to practice at all levels of jurisdiction in Romania, at the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights, in all of the law firm’s areas of expertise, focusing on Tax Litigation and European Law Litigation. Why Tax Law?

C.F.C.: Some 10 years ago, there was little interest for this field of law, since both scholars and lawyers focused on civil law and criminal law. A decade later, there are plenty of tax issues to discuss and to argue, but there are still very few scholars, magistrates and lawyers who are able to approach European or Romanian Tax Law. In a nutshell, you wake up every morning with a new challenge in the field of Tax Law. Therefore, it is worth it. How do you manage to keep Taw Law attractive for students?

C.F.C.: There is a long talk about the attraction of students for one course or another. Take Harvard or Oxford, not all the courses are popular there either. I tend to underline in the early stages of my course that we are dealing with important financial and fiscal matters that cannot be ignored, especially since the number of tax cases in courts have increased by 15 times in the last 7 years. Good lawyers make good money in the area of Tax Law and it seems to keep people interested too. Last but not least, I am trying to offer a European perspective to my courses and seminars and, for most students, it seems to be the right way. Considering the increased difficulty of the Tax Law exam, what is the portrait of the ideal student? 

C.F.C.: As in art, there are different perspectives. Da Vinci, Picasso or Van Gogh portrayed things differently. But I would say that a good student needs to work hard through the semester in order to score high in Taw Law. The attendance of both courses and seminars is required and, above all, the ‘ideal’ student needs to read and prepare the exam from day one. Difficulties arise only for those allocating none to five days for the Tax Law exam. What are the characteristics of a good professor?

C.F.C.: Law professors, particularly at the Law Faculty in Cluj, are excellent professionals. Therefore, the pattern of a good professor comprises up-to-date knowledge, dedication, and a touch of originality. How do you cope with the dynamics of Tax Law both as a lawyer and as a professor?

C.F.C.: I can tell you there is no time to sleep in the area of Tax Law. Written courses need to be updated at least once in two years. There is an increasing pressure in courts, since even magistrates start to realise that certain issues of tax law are rather difficult to comprise. Sometimes I preach in vain, but this is no good reason to stop preaching Tax Law. Which potential changes would you consider useful or necessary to the tax legislation?

C.F.C.: We would need another interview for this topic. Basically, there is a certain urgency to re-write both the Tax Code and the Tax Procedure Code. And, as in other fields of law, the process of re-writing the Codes shall be left to professionals (scholars, lawyers, tax auditors, and tax counsels), and not to civil servants in the Tax Office. Which are the disadvantages of the lawyer’s profession?

C.F.C.: Unfortunately, there is increasing disrespect in courts directed at lawyers. With no reason whatsoever, since the best graduates do not go to public system, but to the private, competition-oriented system. There shall be no justice and no fair trial without lawyers and everybody needs to understand this. A week ago I had to mention during one hearing that I am a lawyer and not a plant in somebody’s office. Hardships are not overcome easily, but lawyers must dare. How profitable is for a lawyer to specialize in Tax Law?

C.F.C.: At the time being, it seems to be one of the most financially rewarding areas of law. However, a lawyer also needs to invest in his career, if he/she wants to keep up the good work. What is your biggest professional achievement?

C.F.C: Some seven years ago I won a case at the Arad County Court. It was the starting point for a case-law concerning the direct application of European Law. It eventually led to a significant increase in the number of tax cases. This is an achievement, and I do hope there are more to come. What are your recommendations for law students?

C.F.C.: Law students should understand that they need to work hard in order to succeed. As a general rule, law seems to become more complicated every day, since legislation and case-law develop on a daily basis. But there is always room for excellent students and the background offered by the Law Faculty in Cluj should matter in this respect. 

This interview was originally published in the seventh issue of the magazine, which can be accessed here.