Lehman asked the bankruptcy court in May to force Barclays to pay the remaining portion of the $2 billion in bonuses it had committed to when it acquired Lehman's North American business in a firesale days after Lehman collapsed in 2008.
Lehman said Barclays had paid only $1.5 billion in bonuses.
Barclays argued in court papers filed Wednesday that the $2 billion figure in the purchase agreement was an estimate and that it had already paid nearly that amount in bonuses, severance and compensation-related taxes.
Lehman argued that if Barclays does not pay its full commitment for bonuses it should have paid more for Lehman's investment bank, which in turn would provide more money for Lehman's creditors.
Barclays bought Lehman's brokerage business for $1.85 billion in the midst of a market collapse in September 2008. Lehman's estate later sued Barclays for receiving what it said was an unfair $11 billion windfall from that deal.
The judge ruled against Lehman on those claims, but several disputes have lingered over the deal, which was hurriedly thrown together after Lehman collapsed.
The case is In re Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 08-13555; the Barclays bonus dispute is adversary proceeding No. 09-01731.
(Reporting by Tom Hals, editing by Matthew Lewis)