Terrace Hill and Kajima have emerged as the final two developers bidding to build the new 100,000 sq ft magistrates centre for Liverpool.
The pair will submit detailed designs to HM Courts Service in August having made it through to the last round.
Japanese PFI specialist Kajima, with architect Sheppard Robson, plans to build on the West Moorfield site owned by Tony Criss's Derwent Lodge Holdings and the North West Development Agency.
Kajima has an agreement with Criss to buy part of the surface car park site he owns and surrender an option he has on the NWDA's Cross Keys House, which would be demolished.
Criss has a development agreement, in place since the start of this year, with the NWDA and regeneration vehicle Liverpool Vision to develop an office-led scheme on the site.
Kajima previously developed the Health & Safety Executive headquarters in Bootle, north Merseyside.
Terrace Hill, as development partner with landowner Pattons, would develop on a site alongside Kingston House on The Strand, close to the waterfront.
Pattons, controlled by local investor Neil Patton, owns a surface car park and the vacant Halifax House next door.
The site benefits from being immediately below the city's crown court building in Derby Square. Terrace Hill was among the runners-up to redevelop Kingston House as offices, a contest won by Langtree Group which is currently mired in legal negotiations with other neighbouring landowners to unlock the scheme.
Kajima and Terrace Hill are understood to have beaten Manchester-based CTP, Yorkshire developer Shepherd, and Liverpool heavyweight Downing to the last round.
The existing magistrate's courts on Dale Street would be redeveloped for a mixture of uses.
HMCS is advised by DTZ, Drivers Jonas and Davis Langdon.